Fil-Am Clarkson climbs NBA ladder
Two takeaways from the Sacramento Kings’ 116-92 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers at the spanking new Golden 1 Center earlier this week:
DeMarcus Cousins of the California capital’s franchise remains the best center in the NBA.
Filipino American Jordan Clarkson of the Lakers continues to improve as an elite combo guard in the league.
In a game laden with seven individual technical fouls, six against the visitors, the mercurial Cousins scored 31 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.
Clarkson tallied 15 points and 4 assists in a loss, with the Lakers currently at 10-18. The Kings are 9-16 in the standings early in the season.
The 24-year-old Clarkson, whose mom Annette Davis is from Angeles City, Pampanga, is now familiar with his role coming off the bench for coach Luke Walton.
The likeable young guard’s climb at the ladder of success is not lost on Walton, who tinkers with lineups to build chemistry and has decided not to start Jordan.
“Jordan’s been absolutely great,” Walton told sportswriters recently. “I’ve talked to him about starting or coming off the bench; he’s been good with both. It’s nice to have guys like that on your team.”
For being the most consistent Laker on the court the last two seasons, Jordan was rewarded with a four-year $50 million contract in July—a far cry from his minimum salary of $507,336 as a rookie.
An unheralded player from the University of Missouri, Jordan was selected the 46th pick in the 2014 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards, who immediately shipped him from the Beltway to LA for $1.8 million in cash.
Pundits scratched their heads, but not the Lakers scouts when Clarkson was acquired in the second round, long time Lakers spokesperson John Black recalls.
“Evaluate great talent, that’s what our scouting department does,” Black told me by e-mail. “And they do an excellent job, Jordan being an example.”
Jordan’s good fortune extends beyond the Southland—the biggest Filipino basketball fan base in America—and to a cage-crazed Philippines he wanted to play for as a Gilas national team member.
Black said the Lakers “are very pleased” with Jordan’s personality and his popularity, not only with LA Pinoys “but also with most demographics” worldwide.
“Jordan is an excellent young player with a bright future, and … a wonderful young man as well,” according to Black. “We’re very pound to have him represent the Lakers organization.”