The Los Angeles Lakers doubled down on developing backcourt prospects when they selected D'Angelo Russell with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Partnering him with Jordan Clarkson gives the Lakers a young, dynamic pair to run their guard positions going forward, and general manager Mitch Kupchak gave the duo a big vote of confidence.
"Our vision would be for both of those players to play in the backcourt for the next 10-to-12 years," Kupchak said during an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio. It's not the first time Kucphak's mentioned Clarkson and Russell being a part of the Lakers' core for the next decade, and it's definitely not the last. Considering the young backcourt has only spent just over 10-12 minutes per game together through a lone Summer League run, that's a big leap, but one the Lakers have to show they're all-in on as they foster their youth movement.
Jordan and D'Angelo still have plenty of learning to do as individual players, which only makers the tandem's development even tougher to project. Both excel with the ball in their hands, though in different areas. Clarkson's lightning first step, burst to the rim and athleticism make him dangerous, while Russell's ability to navigate the pick-and-roll, pick apart a defense with passing and his shooting touch set him apart. Finding a balance between them is going to be a challenge.
Lakers Summer League head coach Mark Madsen juggled ball-handling duties between both guards, at times keep Russell off-ball to give him a full look at the kind role he's not initiating the offense. Clarkson played both roles last season once he was inserted into the starting lineup.
Russell and Clarkson both have steep learning curves to overcome, and learning to play together is one of the many obstacles ahead for the Lakers' youth movement. They'll get a chance to figure things out together early and often, with the Lakers planning on sliding Kobe Bryant up as the starting small forward to clear a path for their on-court development. What they do with that opportunity will be a key area to keep an eye on as the Lakers' rebuild moves forward.