What Jordan Clarkson’s past tells us about his future with the Utah Jazz

Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Newly acquired Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson already has a niche as a microwave scorer off the bench.

Thanks to Jordan Clarkson, for Jazz fans, Thursday night was even more exciting.

Yes, the Portland Trail Blazers were in town, complete with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the freshly-acquired (kind of) Carmelo Anthony. And if that weren’t enough, not only were the Utah Jazz playing in a nationally-televised game on TNT, but they were rocking their purple throwback uniforms as well.

The Jazz would go on to win a nail-biter of a game against the the Trail Blazers after nearly surrendering a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter. But in spite of Donovan Mitchell’s scoring prowess and Rudy Gobert’s late-game defensive heroics, Jazz fans everywhere were excited to witness first-hand the play of Clarkson, their new shooting guard.

Given the well-documented scoring woes of the Jazz’s bench, Clarkson’s arrival is a welcomed one, to say the least. Dante Exum wasn’t cutting it, as he simply couldn’t acquire any meaningful minutes; neither was Jeff Green and his 7.8 points per game, for that matter. To date, the Jazz’s bench ranks 29th in the league in scoring, averaging a mere 26.9 points per game.

Enter Clarkson, stage left.

Clarkson brings with him a keen sense of pre-game fashion and enough neck tattoos for all of Salt Lake County’s residents combined; but more importantly, he’s a player with one thing on his mind every single night — effectively scoring the basketball off the bench.

Throughout his five-year career, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers, that’s what he’s done. This year with the Cavaliers, the 6-foot-4-inch shooting guard averaged an impressive 14.6 points per game in 23 minutes — most of this with the team’s second unit, of course.

And though Thursday’s initial “baptism-by-fire” experience with the Jazz might beg to differ with Clarkson amassing an unimpressive nine points on 12 shots in nearly 21 minutes, Clarkson has become a much more efficient player this season.

With the Cavaliers, Clarkson boasted a Player Efficiency Rating of 19.3, placing him in good company with the likes of more “household” hoopers such as Domantas Sabonis (19.5), Pascal Siakam (19.4), DeMar DeRozan (19.2) and De’Aaron Fox (19.1).

The boost Clarkson will provide to the Jazz bench will certainly prove helpful in the Jazz’s quest to see their first berth in the Western Conference Finals since the 2006-2007 season against the San Antonio Spurs, but don’t limit Clarkson’s production to the bench — he’ll see plenty of minutes alongside Jazz starters, as well.

During his six-year tenure with the Jazz, Coach Quin Snyder has shown a tendency to oftentimes stagger his starters, combining them with bench players to create a variety of different lineups. Without a doubt, this will benefit both Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic — two of the Jazz’s leading point-getters — who currently average 35 minutes and 33.6 minutes per game, respectively.

The skinny of the situation?

Clarkson is a scorer. As a scorer, he possesses the ability to go and get a bucket on his own when his team desperately needs one. Given Mike Conley’s 32-year-old hamstring and reports that he’s likely to be sidelined a few “more weeks,” the need for this kind of skill set is only heightened.

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According to UtahJazz.com writer Aaron Falk, the Jazz have had an eye on Clarkson since before he came into the league as the 46th overall pick by the Washington Wizards in 2014. That was six years ago. The Jazz now have their man. With a single game under his belt, only time will tell if Clarkson can deliver on the Jazz’s high expectations of him as a trusted bench scorer.