Jordan Clarkson is giving the Lakers what Brandon Ingram can’t

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Despite a maintained role off the bench, the Lakers have gotten the most bang for their buck from Jordan Clarkson.

There was no doubt that the young guard would be an off-season priority for the team a couple summers ago when he could’ve headed elsewhere. Instead, Jordan Clarkson agreed to return on a deal worth $50 million.

In a year where all eyes have been on how Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma perform, Clarkson hasn’t let that stop him from being a top scorer on the team. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has only played one game so far for the team after serving a two-game suspension, and if he hadn’t scored 20 points in one game, Clarkson would still be the leader on paper for most per contest (19.7).

It’s in the same neighborhood of scoring that Magic Johnson insisted we would all see Brandon Ingram jump to in his second year as a Lakers player. We haven’t seen that just yet, but thus far, Ingram only leads Kyle Kuzma in scoring by less than half of a point.

Clarkson, meanwhile, is off to the best scoring start of his career, already scoring five more points per game than what he averaged all of last season. He has less than three rebounds and three assists per game, but if we’re honest, someone had to step up on the scoring side of things and it’s refreshing to know that he’s up for the task.

Above all else, this should go to show that Clarkson isn’t just the most underappreciated player on the roster, but he might also fit the bill of the most misunderstood. He wants to win, as all players do, but he’s found a way to thrive in his role as a reserve and it might be the anchor that keeps these young Lakers from sinking.

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We’ll have a better assessment as the season goes on, obviously, but his hot start is definitely worth noting.