The Utah Jazz and Jordan Clarkson partnership has been extremely beneficial and rewarding, giving both parties exactly what they needed.
It took the Utah Jazz 30 games to realize that the bench unit that they had assembled going into the 2019-20 season was not going to cut it. Joe Ingles was underperforming in his bench role, Ed Davis had been extremely disappointing, and Jeff Green struggled with his shooting very much.
The Jazz were 17-12 going into the 30th game of the season. They were about to make a season-changing move. Shortly before tip-off in Miami on December 23rd, the Jazz acquired Jordan Clarkson in a trade with the Cavaliers. Utah had to ship off Dante Exum, along with two future second round picks, to complete the deal.
Some were excited about the move, and some, like myself, were skeptical. It turns out my concerns were unwarranted, as Clarkson has given the Jazz everything they have asked for and more.
Since acquiring Jordan Clarkson, the Jazz have went 14-4. Now, the teams success is, obviously, not all because of Clarkson, but he has played a major role. Utah’s bench was tough to watch prior to the Clarkson addition, but it turns out having a professional scorer (Clarkson) and an elite shooter (Georges Niang) on the second unit will open things up in a great way.
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It’s clear that the Jazz needed a player like Clarkson. They needed a go-to guy in that second unit. A guy that you can give the ball to and get out of the way, because he’s going to get a basket. His once-questioned fit with the team as an identified ball-stopper and poor defender has quickly vanished.
It is also clear that Clarkson needed a team like the Utah Jazz. The guy is in his sixth NBA season, and has only been to the playoffs one time, with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018.
As a member of the Jazz, Clarkson is averaging 15.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 25.5 minutes. He’s shooting 46 percent overall and 35 percent from deep. He’s also coming off a season-best outing in Denver last night, where he had 24 points in the fourth quarter and 37 in total.
Both his willingness to share the ball and willingness to defend have certainly impressed me. He’s been much better than I thought in those key areas.
As a member of the Cavaliers, Clarkson reached the NBA Finals in 2018, but his Cavs were swept by the Golden State Warriors. Clarkson really struggled during his postseason run, averaging 4.7 points on 30 percent shooting and 3.0 points on 23 percent shooting in the Finals.
Since then, Clarkson has clearly improved as a player, but he’s done so on a LeBron-less and non-playoff team in Cleveland.
Many wanted to see if he could replicate that success for a successful franchise. For him to have the ability to join a contending team in Utah and fit in his role seamlessly is quite impressive. It’s been much better than his previous encounter with winning basketball.
Now, he is looking like a newer version of Jamal Crawford. Whether it’s in Utah or somewhere else, Clarkson will thrive in his role as a sixth man. His value is rising around the league after his extremely positive start with this Jazz team.
As we continue on with the regular season grind and then the playoffs, Jordan Clarkson will continue to play a massive role for the 32-16 Utah Jazz. I think we can say that this pairing has brought a positive view on both the team and the player.