D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson probably entered this year thinking it would take fewer than 70 games to be featured in the Los Angeles Lakers’ starting backcourt.
After seeing the combination work as well as it did Sunday night against the NBA’s defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, fans can probably look forward to a longer look at those two starting in the final dozen games.
Russell finished Sunday night with a career high 40 points on only 22 shots and six assists. Clarkson wound up with 19 points on 18 shots and six assists of his own. The two combined for a total of three turnovers.
That production can’t be expected night in, night out, but given how well they looked out there tonight, it’s absolutely fair to wonder what took so long for those two to finally start together.
According to Luke Walton, fans can look forward to watching those two try to replicate Sunday night’s effort until further notice. He didn’t expand on what might’ve taken so long.
“We’ll continue to try to that lineup going forward,” Walton said to the OC Register’s Mark Medina and others after the game., “and see if we can make that chemistry between the two a normal thing.”
As exciting as the prospect of those two developing chemistry might be, one can’t help but feel the tinge of annoyance at how long they waited to let them build that rapport at the starts of games.
Russell and Clarkson entered the season touted as the backcourt of the future and the Lakers will tell anyone who’ll listen that the future is now, so the fact that this is finally taking place with such a relatively low number of games left is yet another blemish on the coaching staff’s management of these two.
Developing chemistry is not easy. There’s no guarantee Clarkson and Russell ever develop the kind of relationship it takes to win consistently. Still, hoping to find it with just over an eighth of the year to go feels like procrastinating on studying for the most important test of the year.
The Lakers have a ton riding on whether they figure it out, and not giving them the proper amount of time to do so feels like a pretty major opportunity missed. Tests have been passed by procrastinators, though, so here’s hoping the backcourt of the Lakers’ future as the roster currently stands can find a way to build something despite the suboptimal management they’ve seen to the point.