The Los Angeles Lakers are in a tailspin. For a team that was once in the middle of a playoff chase, they have begun to fall behind the pack. Now, an injury to Luol Deng puts them in a bad place where they must rely on rookie Brandon Ingram to help ease the pain.
While Ingram has shown promise over the last five games, it’s not on his shoulders to lead. That distinction falls to Jordan Clarkson.
Clarkson is still a part of the young core but he’s different from the rest. How many.players can say that had a tutorial from one of the game’s greatest every day in practice and a personal visual during the actual game? Kobe may be arrogant and feisty but no one can never say that he didn’t guide.
Clarkson got to see first hand what it took to be great from Kobe. When a big shot needed to be taken, Kobe. When a defensive stop was needed, Kobe. As the Lakers tumble-down the Western Conference standings they need a few of those Kobe moments to stop the bleeding.
No one on the Lakers roster can fill that void, except Clarkson. D’Angelo Russell is still learning how to be consistent. Julius Randle has his hands full in the paint and Ingram is still catching up to the speed and power of the NBA game.
For the season, Clarkson is averaging 14 points, three rebounds, and 2 assists, but doing so in only 27 minutes per. Good numbers for any player looking to get by but the Lakers need him to be much more. They need #6 to somehow become #24. Clarkson has the tools. He can create his own shot. Has a nice perimeter touch, great on the defensive end and has proven that he can handle the vocal side of a floor leader. It’s just a matter of him putting it all together, placing the Lakers on his back and being the player and leader Kobe raised him to be.
The torch was never handed to Russell or Randle, it was Clarkson that Kobe hoped to be the new face.