The next dominant trio in the NBA: Russell, Randle, Clarkson
The day Kobe Bryant plays his final NBA game will be one of the saddest days in league history. It won’t just be the end of an era, but he will be the last great Laker of the 2000’s/2010’s.
Bryant is a worldwide icon, respected by all fans across the globe. Los Angeles and its fans have been spoiled to watch some of the all-time greatest players lace em’ Gongfu Tea Cup as a member of the Lakers. George Mikan. Jerry West. Elgin Baylor. Wilt Chamberlain. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Magic Johnson. James Worthy. Shaquille O’Neal. Kobe Bryant. In a matter of 60 years, the Los Angeles Lakers have compiled some of the biggest names in league history and have had overwhelming success.
The Next Lakers Superstar(s)
But who will be next? Who will be the next superstar(s) to lead the Lakers to their seventeenth NBA championship? The next star “big three” in the league will be compiled of guards Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell, and big-man Julius Randle. All three in their young twenties, as well as being drafted within the last three years, they have plenty of time to grow and mature their game. Clarkson and Russell, guards blessed with a unique way of scoring and assisting the ball, will serve as a one-two punch to opposing teams. Teams playing against Russell and Clarkson will need to lace up their running shoes, because they can both run you out of the gym. Randle — similar to Lamar Odom — can operate in the post very efficiently, and uses his speed to rebound the ball and take it coast-to-coast for an easy bucket.
Julius Randle Is A Double Double Machine.
To go along with the duo is second-year power forward, Julius Randle. Randle, a college phenom, had his rookie season abruptly ended by injury in his first professional game. After about a year of hard work, Randle was averaging 19.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per 36 minutes in the 2015 preseason, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 60.7 percent in the paint (where he’s clearly most comfortable as a scorer). He’s offensively and defensively aggressive, who attacks defenders sagging off him like a bull whose main goal is to get the ball in the rim. When healthy, Randle is no doubt, a double-double machine.
Kobe Bryant, Mentor.
A major factor which will help their careers grow that much faster, is they’re learning from five-time champion, Kobe Bryant, who knows the league like the back of his hand. The “Black Mamba” is their mentor, teaching these kids the tricks of the trade. According to 2015 No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell, he picked his locker next to Kobe Bryant, “so [he] could have the opportunity to pick [Bryant’s] brain a little bit every day.” Russell also admitted, “I don’t have to make it weird by walking to his locker. I’ll just look to my right and there he is.” Russell, obviously already has a growing relationship with Bryant, as Clarkson and Randle do too.
Jordan Clarkson Already A Fan Favorite.
Heading into his sophomore season in the NBA, Jordan Clarkson is already a fan favorite for Los Angeles. His gritty play at both ends of the floor makes Lakers fans favorite him, as well as for his Philippine background. Named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team in 2015, Clarkson is looking to have a breakout sophomore season. Clarkson strongly finished his rookie year with averages of 11.9 points, 3.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game on 45% shooting from the field. Clarkson who has all the tools to become a great guard in this league, is giving Lakers fans confidence to be “the man” in Los Angeles post-Kobe Bryant era. In the 38 games Clarkson started for Los Angeles in the 2014-15 campaign, he put up an impressive 15.8 points, 5.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds a game. Clarkson became a legitimate name in the league in those 38 games when head coach Byron Scott gave him the green light to floor general the struggling Lakers. Clarkson eventually finished 7th in Rookie of the Year voting for the season.
The Talented Mr. Russell.
Ohio State standout D’Angelo Russell has a load of hype coming into the league; being chosen second-overall pick, fans have extremely high expectations for the combo-guard. Russell, who struggled in the summer league and the preseason, maybe made Lakers supporters doubt their teams’ pick. Russell did impress the NBA world with his passing ability, dropping 11 assists against Maccabi Haifa and posting well-rounded stat lines in short minutes during a few preseason games. There’s no doubt Russell has unbelievable skill, but it may take time for him to hone his skills in the league. Although Russell may not score as much as he would on any other team because of the Lakers’ surplus of guards, the 19-year old will be filling the stat sheet with his assist numbers and will facilitate for this Lakers team.
To go along with Kobe Bryant and Roy Hibbert, Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle will most likely be placed in the Lakers’ starting lineup for most games throughout the season. With a guard-heavy squad, the Los Angeles may flip-flop Clarkson and Russell in-and-out of the starting lineup. Randle will likely remain in the starting lineup all year if all goes well with his body. Because of the impressive offseason moves and the return of Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to bring back success to Hollywood. Looking competitive on paper, chemistry and growing pains will undoubtedly present some obstacles throughout the upcoming season. The Los Angeles Lakers’ future is extremely bright, and fans can only give credit to general manager Mitch Kupchak for rebuilding this team and creating a balance between youth and veteran leadership. With Russell, Randle and Clarkson evolving, success will come quickly. They will once again be in a legitimate chase for their seventeenth title.