Each time his name was passed up on the draft board, Jordan Clarkson’s received more fuel to prove the general public wrong. Each time Clarkson’s name was passed up, the Lakers became more giddy about the prospect of acquiring him.
Shortly after selecting Kentucky forward Julius Randle with the seventh pick of the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak furiously worked the phones in trying to secure a second round pick. The net result: the Lakers acquired the rights of the Washington Wizards’ 46th pick for $1.8 million and used it to select Clarkson, which Kupchak labeled as a “ball handling guard.”
“To get a guy like that at 46,” Kupchak said, “we’re pleased.”
Clarkson sounded giddy too later in a conference call with reporters, gushing about the Lakers’ championship history and teaming up with Kobe Bryant. Still, Clarkson admitted feeling slighted he was not selected earlier.
“My agent was telling me early on I may go in the late first round, but be prepared for anything to happen,” Clarkson said. “I was and I just took it in stride. Now I can just use it as motivation to really push me at that next level.”
Clarkson, 22, isn’t necessarily expected to take Steve Nash’s position even if uncertainty persists on the nerve irritation in his back that kept him out last season for all but 15 games. But Kupchak sounded optimistic about Clarkson’s future that will start with competing on the Lakers’ Summer League team from July 11-21.
Kupchak persistently gushed about Clarkson’s 6-foot-3, 185 pound frame and versatility after averaging 17.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in one season with Missouri after transferring from Tulsa after his sophomore season.
“He’s got great size,” Kupchak said. “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. He left school a year early. He transferred. So, I’m sure he was thinking that maybe he would get drafted higher and maybe he has a chip on his shoulder — an expression you’ve heard today — to come out and prove something.”
Turns out that is actually the case. Yet, in a way, Clarkson prefers this scenario happening.
“I was enthused. It’s a blessing,” Clarkson said. “God has a plan for everybody. I feel like I’, in a good situation. It was a longer process and I worked real hard and I felt like I’m in the right situation. I just have to make the best out of my opportunity.”