Rookie Tales ... with Jordan Clarkson

As the Cavs Take on the Lakers, Clarkson Looks Back on His Freshman Campaign
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Rookie Tales ... with Jordan Clarkson

As the Cavs Take On the Lakers, Clarkson Looks Back on His Freshman Campaign

You have to hand it to the Lakers: they’ve succeed at finding Draft night diamonds in the rough over the past few years. But right now, two of those hidden gems are currently wearing the Wine & Gold.

Jordan Clarkson was dealt to the Cavaliers (along with Larry Nance Jr.) when the Wine & Gold pulled off a trio of Deadline deals that completely reshaped the roster. And after spending the first three-and-a-half years in Tinseltown, the lithe combo-guard hasn’t missed a beat with his new squad.

This season, Clarkson is the league’s second-leading scorer off the bench – at 14.2 ppg – and has notched double-figures in nine of his first 11 games with Cleveland, including a 21-point effort in Friday night’s loss at STAPLES Center.

Clarkson got his start with the Lakers back in 2014 – taken with the 46th overall pick out of Missouri by the Wizards and shipped to Los Angeles shortly thereafter for cash considerations.

After a slow start to his freshman season in L.A. – bouncing back and forth between the bigs and the G League affiliate in Bakersfield – Clarkson went on to start 38 games for the Lakers, averaging 15.8 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.2 boards. His strong finish earned him a spot on the All-Rookie First Team – a rarity for a second-round selection.

As he and the Cavaliers prepare to square off against his old squad on Sunday night, sat down with Clarkson to talk about the early days of his career in today’s installment of Rookie Tales

A young Jordan Clarkson takes flight in LakerLand.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Only four second round picks had ever made the All-Rookie First Team when you did it in 2015. What did that honor mean to you?

Jordan Clarkson: It meant a lot. I went from the D-League to not playing to starting all in, like, a matter of a month. It just showed my progression and how I worked on my game through the D-League and through just training and working.

At what point during your first season did you realize that you could make your mark in the league?

Clarkson: I’d say just in the last two months of my rookie season. I had a strong second half -- and I feel like that's what got me where I am today.

When Byron Scott was in Cleveland, he was notoriously tough on rookies. What was he like with you in L.A.?

Clarkson: He was definitely tough. But he gave me the opportunity and he worked with me.

In those last couple months, he just wanted to see me see me grow as a player, so it was definitely cool to have him do that.

But he was always on me too! It wasn't like I was just running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

"I wouldn't say he was as tough on me as he was on a lot of guys in terms of vocally. But he was always talking to me."

Jordan Clarkson on his early relationship with Kobe Bryant

Did coming into that year with a high-profile first rounder like Julius Randle take some of the pressure off you?

Clarkson: Not really, because he didn't play his rookie season. So, a lot of that time in my rookie year was spent by myself.

But coming in with Julius was a lot of help because I've known Julius since the 8th grade. It was easy for me to kind of get used to everything here (in L.A.) but it was definitely cool to have him here.

So, no culture shock starting out here in Southern California?

Clarkson: No, not really, to be honest. It’s definitely nice weather here; it's definitely a good life.

What was your experience like as a young rookie dealing with Kobe Bryant?

Clarkson: It was crazy, just having that experience – talking with him, getting up shots in the morning, things like that.

But it was definitely cool to see how he worked and how he was wired differently than most guys. I wouldn't say he was as tough on me as he was on a lot of guys in terms of vocally. But he was always talking to me -- about anything, really.

Which veteran was toughest on you and which veteran took you under his wing?

Clarkson: (Laughs) Kobe was both.

Seriously though, I’d say Nick Young, in terms of his family.

Him and his family really took me under their wing. So, it was definitely cool to have him here, too. He was almost like a big brother to me at the time -- being here in the city, getting situated. His entire family, everybody got me situated here. It helped me a lot.

And Kobe was probably the toughest on me. But he pushed me, and that was good.

Any rookie initiations that first year? Donuts? Newspapers?

Clarkson: No – I used to have to carry a baby doll to every game. Either that or a pink backpack.

I think I had a pink "Frozen" backpack or something crazy like that. So it was always one or the other: if I didn't have the backpack, I had to have the baby.

What did you go with?

Clarkson: Most of the time I picked the backpack.

Clarkson Picks the Suns' Pocket

Jordan Clarkson sneaks a steal against a Suns player during the second quarter of Friday night's game.

Rookie Tales with Jordan Clarkson - March 10, 2018

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Clarkson Picks the Suns' Pocket

Jordan Clarkson sneaks a steal against a Suns player during the second quarter of Friday night's game.
Mar 23, 2018  |  00:09

GAME RECAP: Cavaliers 132, Raptors 129

The Cavaliers edged out the Toronto Raptors with LeBron James scoring 35 points, 17 assists, and seven rebounds as Cleveland wins 132-129.
Mar 21, 2018  |  02:10

#CavsBucks Postgame Wrap-Up presented by Rocket Mortgage's Fred McLeod checks in from Quicken Loans Arena to wrap-up the Wine & Gold's victory against the Bucks on Monday.
Mar 20, 2018  |  02:37

#CavsBucks Postgame: Jordan Clarkson - March 19, 2018

Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson spoke with the media following Monday’s 124-117 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena.
Mar 19, 2018  |  01:57

Clarkson Helps James Earn Triple-Double

Jordan Clarkson buries a corner three in the fourth quarter, helping LeBron James earn a triple-double on the night with his tenth assist.
Mar 19, 2018  |  00:13 Top Plays of Week 22

From dimes to a posterizing slam, check out the Top 5 Wine & Gold highlights from Week 22 powered by Elk & Elk.
Mar 19, 2018  |  01:24

GAME RECAP: Cavaliers 114, Bulls 109

LeBron James leads all scoring with 33 points to go along with 13 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Cavaliers to a win over the Bulls, 114-109.
Mar 17, 2018  |  02:04

#CavsBlazers Postgame: Jordan Clarkson - March 15, 2018

Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson spoke with the media following Thursday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center.
Mar 16, 2018  |  02:17

GAME RECAP: Blazers 113, Cavaliers 105

CJ McCollum scores 29 points and dishes out three assists against the Cavaliers as the Blazers clinch their 11th straight win.
Mar 16, 2018  |  02:06

GAME RECAP: Cavaliers 129, Suns 107

LeBron James leads the way for the Cavaliers with his career-high 14th triple-double in a season (28 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists) as Cleveland wins on the road over the Phoenix Suns, 129-107.
Mar 14, 2018  |  01:27

GameTime: Cavaliers Cruise Past Suns

The GameTime crew talks about the lineup changes that the Cavaliers made during a win over the Suns.
Mar 14, 2018  |  04:23

LBJ Tallies Triple-Double with Assist to Clarkson

LeBron James records his 14th triple-double of the season on this pretty pass to Jordan Clarkson for the slam.
Mar 14, 2018  |  00:18

Clarkson Feeds Zizic

Jordan Clarkson and Ante Zizic work the two-man game resulting in a emphatic finish.
Mar 13, 2018  |  00:13 Top Plays of Week 21

From clutch shots to dunks, check out the Top 5 Wine & Gold highlights from Week 21 powered by Elk & Elk.
Mar 12, 2018  |  02:20

#CavsLakers Postgame: Jordan Clarkson - March 11, 2018

Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson spoke with the media following Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at STAPLES Center.
Mar 12, 2018  |  02:52

GAME RECAP: Lakers 127, Cavaliers 113

Julius Randle posts a career-high 36 points, grabs 14 rebounds and seven assists to the lead the Lakers to a 127-113 victory over the Cavaliers.
Mar 12, 2018  |  01:51

Clarkson Dimes Zizic for Two Dunks

Jordan Clarkson finds Ante Zizic on the pick-and-roll for two easy slams.
Mar 11, 2018  |  00:19

Clarkson Discusses Returning to L.A.

Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson spoke with the media following Saturday's practice at UCLA about his return to L.A. and facing his former squad.
Mar 10, 2018  |  03:16

GAME RECAP: Clippers 116, Cavaliers 102

DeAndre Jordan was a force down low for the Clippers with 20 points and 23 rebounds in a 116-102 win over the Cavaliers. LeBron James put up 25 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland in the loss.
Mar 10, 2018  |  01:44

Clarkson with the Four-Point Play

Jordan Clarkson gets the triple to fall, plus the foul, in this Goodyear 'More Driven' highlight.
Mar 9, 2018  |  00:22

#CavsClippers Shootaround: Jordan Clarkson - March 9, 2018

Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson spoke with the media prior to Friday's shootaround in Los Angeles.
Mar 9, 2018  |  03:27

GAME RECAP: Cavaliers 113, Nuggets 108

LeBron James scores 39 as Cavs seal the win late in the fourth quarter.
Mar 8, 2018  |  01:51

Clarkson with the Fancy Finish

Jordan Clarkson gets fancy with the layup and converts the up-and-under reverse.
Mar 7, 2018  |  00:16

GAME RECAP: Cavaliers 112, Pistons 90

Lary Nance Jr. scores a career-high 22 points to go along with 15 rebounds as the Cavaliers get the win over the Pistons, 112-90.
Mar 5, 2018  |  01:52

Great Passing Leads to Incredible Basket

Jordan Clarkson finishes off a round-the-world passing play with an incredible three-pointer that rolls off the top of the basket and in.
Mar 5, 2018  |  00:11

Clarkson Hits Tough Jumper

Jordan Clarkson takes control of the possession, knocking down a tough jumper to cap off an impressive play in the fourth quarter.
Mar 5, 2018  |  00:08

Intel True View: Clarkson Nails Jumper

Experience Intel True View with this unique angle of Jordan Clarkson's slick jumper in the first half against the Pistons.
Mar 5, 2018  |  00:17

Cavs Have Conversations with Local Teens

Forty teens from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland spent the afternoon at Cleveland Clinic Courts for a special Basketball and History Town Hall as part of the Cavaliers annual Black Heritage Celebration.
Mar 4, 2018  |  04:46

Clarkson Nails Corner Trey

Jordan Clarkson nails a corner three near the end of the third quarter to bring the Cavs within four points of the Nuggets.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:10

Clarkson Powers Past Denver Defense

Jordan Clarkson takes the ball down the court before powering past a Denver defender enroute to a spectacular bucket.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:11