The NBA’s 30 Men Of Intrigue: Jordan Clarkson

(Editor’s Note: To kick off our coverage of the 2015-16 NBA season, we’re profiling the most intriguing player of each NBA team. What makes these players intriguing? It could be their talent, quirkiness or the unknown — it doesn’t matter. Follow The NBA’s 30 Men of Intrigue series here with us at TSFJ, as our friends and family join us for another awesome basketball campaign.)

Jordan Clarkson (The Apprentice)
2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers: 21-61

The Los Angeles Lakers will be must-see TV this upcoming NBA season.

Yeah, that sounds pretty ridiculous, but would you be willing to admit that you're intrigued?

Come on. This is a safe space. You know you are more than a little bit curious as to how this thing is going to work out for them. Ever since you heard the report that a thrice-injured in as many years, 6'6", 210-pound, 38-year-old Kobe Bryant might play a little power forward this year, you've been on high alert if for no other reason than for your earliest opportunity to watch that potential train wreck during its first live showing.

Only time will tell if that proposed change in the lineup actually comes to fruition, but we do know one major change involving Bryant that is guaranteed to happen. As the Mamba moves to small forward, for the first time in 16 years someone other than Kobe will be named the Lakers' starting shooting guard. That someone is Jordan Clarkson, and that makes him the most interesting man in the world.

Well, not the world, of course, but definitely in purple and gold.

We got a fairly good sense of what Clarkson was made of last year and a bit more during this current preseason. He's an athletic young scorer who, upon hitting the scene, has been surprisingly and significantly better than anyone could have predicted. A Rookie of the Year nominee last season, Clarkson has a few highlight reels to his credit on YouTube that provoke visions of an impressive sophomore campaign. The Lakers will most certainly need that in order to have any chance at making a dent in the West this season.

They’ll actually need infinitely more than that, but a formidable backcourt isn’t a bad place to start. Along with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, D’Angelo Russell, Clarkson maybe setting the Lakers up with a dynamic duo for the future. For now, though, he’ll need to do really well at Kobe’s old job at the 2 as Kobe looks on demandingly from his new job at the 3.

Simply put, Clarkson will need to perform like a starter, stepping up and being able to be counted on night in and night out. And he’ll have to do so under the watchful eye of a team leader and a fan base without the benefit of the doubt.

After last year’s All-Star break, Clarkson averaged nearly 17 points, five assists and five rebounds a game and had a usage rate of 24.4, comparable to Chris Paul with 24.8. What happens this year, however, may be more of a question of touches. With the team’s stacking of talent in the offseason and the return of KB24, one has to wonder if the flow of offense will allow for a continuation of his second-half run. Whatever the case, the former 46th overall pick can be certain that what passed for a pleasant surprise last season will merely be what is expected in this one. If all goes well, the Lakers just might find their competitive footing and a respectable showing against the elite backcourts out west.

Lakers head coach Byron Scott recently praised Clarkson’s improvement on defense saying it was a “lot better than last year both on and off the ball.” With regard to his quickness, Scott has compared him to Russell Westbrook.

And that’s a good thing, too, since if you want to beat the best, you’ve got to be able to stay in front of them.

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