- Baxter Holmes, ESPN Staff Writer
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Late last season, Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott spoke of Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson in the same breath as Oklahoma City star guard Russell Westbrook, saying that while Clarkson wasn't on the same level, he did at least play a similar style and have similar athleticism.
Now Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is making the same argument.
"If there’s a player in the league that plays like him, it’s Russell Westbrook," Kupchak said during a Thursday radio appearance with ESPN's Colin Cowherd. "Now, I’m not saying for a second that Jordan Clarkson is the next Russell Westbrook, but he’s that kind of a ball-handling guard.
The Lakers acquired Clarkson with the 46th pick in the 2014 draft, and he earned considerable playing time last season with injuries decimating the roster.
In 38 games as a starter, many of them at point guard, Clarkson averaged 15.8 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting, with 5.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds.
Clarkson was recently named to the All-Rookie first team. But it’s hard to say if the Lakers believe they’re ready to give the reigns of the offense over to Clarkson next season.
“We drafted him [46th overall]; didn’t know he was going to have that kind of year,” Kupchak said. “But he played a lot of minutes on a team that wasn’t very good. So we’re very encouraged, but the jury is still out on him.”
There are questions about whether Clarkson is a point guard or a shooting guard, but Kupchak said he's a blend of the two positions, much like Westbrook.
“He looks to attack the rim," Kupchak said. "He’s aggressive offensively. He’s not going to walk the ball up the court, make an entry pass and cut through. He’s going to push the ball, look for a crack and try to get to the rim, try to make a play. When he comes off a pick, he’ll look to shoot. He’ll pass the ball, but I would agree -- he’s not the typical, prototype, ball-handling point guard.”
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak sees similarities between rookie guard Jordan Clarkson and the Thunder's Russell Westbrook.