Point guard Jordan Clarkson was introduced as a Laker on Monday. (nba.com)
The Los Angeles Lakers opened practice Monday morning for the first time this summer in preparation for the NBA Summer League. Although the Lakers have only a handful of players currently under contract as they wait for free agency to get sorted out, both their first- and second-round (via Washington) picks – forward Julius Randle and point guard Jordan Clarkson – were on hand to practice with several other hopefuls who are looking to make an impression for a place on the 2014-2015 squad.
Marshall Has More to Prove, Sets Higher Goals
Point guard Kendall Marshall, who started 45 games last season and averaged 8 points and 8.8 assists, was the only Laker at practice who had meaningful playing time last season. He assured that although he played a key role on last season’s team, he isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I feel like I still have a lot to prove,” said Marshall. “For some reason, there’s always a reason why I’m successful or why I’m not successful. So I kind of need to put that doubt to rest and just go out and prove I could play.
“The main thing I want to be able to prove is that I can win in this league, that’s what’s most important. I proved that I can get playing time last year, but we still weren’t successful as a team. So [winning] means a lot to me.”
Marshall admitted that although he’s just as eager to improve individually as last season, the fact that the Lakers are still without a head coach is a less than ideal situation for him.
“It’s a little hard [not having a head coach], because one thing I take pride in as a point guard is in knowing my offense and defense like the back of my hand,” he said. “But it’s kind of hard to do that right now. I’m focusing on getting better and focusing on being successful no matter who the coach is.”
No Surgery for Randle
For his part, Randle said he felt relieved and ready to compete after learning last Wednesday he won’t be needing surgery on his right foot after he traveled to Indiana to meet with foot specialist Dr. David Porter.
Randle, the seventh overall pick by the Lakers, said he comes to the team with a winning mentality, which is something that drives him above all else.
“My goal is to win it, so I don’t go out there to lose,” he said. “Of course I have things that I feel like I can prove, but I just want to win.”
The 6-foot-9 power forward from the University of Kentucky also had words for his new teammate, Clark.
“He’s good,” said Randle. “I actually played against him in college season … he had a big game versus us, really caught our eye. I already knew what kind of player he was coming in here. He’s really good.”
Confident Clarkson Has Chip on His Shoulder
Clarkson was thrilled and humbled by the fact that the Lakers went out of their way to draft him, but he feels he should’ve been drafted much earlier. Although he said there’s no reason to dwell on being drafted so late at this point, he will definitely use that as motivation heading into the season.
“I’m just happy for the opportunity to be here and have the opportunity to play,” he said. “It’s just a relaxing feeling, you know. I’m going to work hard, I have a chip on my shoulder from the draft and stuff, so I’m just going to come here and work.
“I felt like I was one of the better point guards in the draft, maybe the best. You know, just falling out of the first round and being selected in the second round. But the number [where I was drafted], it doesn’t matter where you get drafted, it’s about the fit. That’s where I get my ‘chip’ from.”
Unlike Marshall, who voiced a small concern for the team having no coach heading into summer league play, Clarkson feels that’s a non-issue for him.
“They’re going to handle the situation…all we could control is just what we do on the court, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.
The Lakers open NBA Summer League play this week in Las Vegas against the Toronto Raptors at 3 p.m.