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Clarkson Shines Among Young Lakers Talent.

With the Los Angeles Lakers boasting promising young stars Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, it might be easy to overlook the production of one of the only mainstay players on the roster. Jordan Clarkson, who joined the Lakers as a second-round pick in 2014, has flown under the radar a bit this season, yet he has been an important contributor to Luke Walton's squad. 

On Saturday night, Clarkson led the Lakers with 22 points in 27 minutes in a 110-99 road win over the Charlotte Hornets. With Ball on the bench, Clarkson scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to help the Lakers pull away with the victory.

It was another strong performance for a young guard who has made the most of his minutes. Clarkson, 25, has only logged more than 28 minutes in a game twice this season, yet he is third on the team in scoring at 14.9 points per game.

One could argue that Clarkson is among the most underrated scorers in the NBA. Based on 48 minutes per game, Clarkson is 17th in the league in scoring (31.8 points per game). He averages 22.5 minutes per game and no other player in the top 20 of the category averages less than 29. Clarkson's 31.8 scoring average is better than stars Russell Westbrook and Klay Thompson. 

Then there's the matter of efficiency. Clarkson shoots 48.1 percent from the field, which is better than All-Star guards James Harden, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Westbrook.

Indeed, Clarkson might be included among the league's most under-appreciated players. The swingman hasn't started a game this season, but like Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets and Jonathon Simmons of the Orlando Magic, he often posts better stats than starters. Barton leads the Nuggets in scoring despite starting just six games, while Simmons has a better field-goal percentage than three of the five starters yet has only started in eight games.

Clarkson's strong shooting and effective play is nothing new. He finished second on the Lakers in scoring in the 2015-16 season and third in scoring in 2016-17. Still, there were reports that the Lakers were considering trading him in the offseason, which may have fueled the best shooting season of his career.

"To me it's motivation," (http://beta.latimes.com/sports/lakers/la-sp-lakers-report-20171112-story.html) Clarkson told the Los Angeles Times  in November about the trade rumors. "It's a business, you're either going to be here or you ain't. Wherever I am I want to be productive."

Perhaps a reason for the Lakers shopping Clarkson has been the team's overall interest in reshaping the roster since the retirement of Kobe Bryant in 2016. Clarkson and Julius Randle are the only holdovers from the Lakers' 2014-15 roster, though Randle only appeared in one game that season.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Dec 10, 2017
Words:479
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