Although the Lakers did not own any second-round draft picks in the 2014 NBA Draft, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak acquired guard Jordan Clarkson via Washington with the 46th overall pick in exchange for cash considerations. The 6-foot-5 guard out of Missouri was introduced for the first time as a Laker at the team's practice facility on Monday.
"I’m just happy for the opportunity to come here and the opportunity to play," Clarkson said. "It’s a relaxing feeling and I’m going to work hard. I got a chip on my shoulder from the Draft. I’m just going to come in and work."
Clarkson spent his first two collegiate seasons at Tulsa, where he earned Conference USA All-Freshman Team honors in 2010-11 and First-Team All-Conference USA as a sophomore in 2011-12. After sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, Clarkson played his junior year at Missouri where he averaged 17.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists. In his lone season as a Tiger, he was named Second Team All-Southeastern Conference (2014).
"He's got great size," Mitch Kupchak said of Clarkson during a press conference following the draft. "Good athlete, really good size, good defender, excels probably at attacking the rim. Maybe not as good of a shooter, probably, as he will be when he works on it ... But we liked his size and we liked his skill at that position."
Though he classifies himself as a point guard, Clarkson cited he can play off the ball on offense and guard positions one through three on defense because of his size and his versatility. Despite falling to the middle of the second round, the Texas native believes he can bring a lot to the table.
"I felt like I was one of the better point guards in the draft, maybe the best," he said. "But falling out of the first round and being selected in the second round, the number really doesn’t matter where you get drafted – it’s about the fit."
Following the team's first practice in preparation for Las Vegas Summer League that begins July 11, some of Clarkson's teammates were impressed with his ability during 5-on-5 halfcourt sets.
"Jordan is very strong, a big guard," Kendall Marshall said. "You could see his jump shot has got a lot better. He's really good defensively so I think he'll help us out as well."
Fellow rookie Julius Randle echoed similar sentiments.
"He's good," Randle said. "I actually played against him in the college season. He had a big game* against us and it caught our eye. I kind of knew what kind of player he was coming in here. He's really good. He shot the ball really well to me in a little bit of the scrimmage. Of course, he's athletic and fast, but he shot it pretty well." *Clarkson scored 28 points vs. Kentucky in an 84-79 loss on Feb. 1.
Despite his strong showing on Day 1 of practice, Clarkson understands he can use Las Vegas Summer League to sharpen his game in preparation for his rookie season.
"My shot consistency is an area I can improve and continuing to work on my ballhandling," he said. "I feel the rest of my game will come along."