Utah Jazz: Before Jordan Clarkson’s bench eruption, there was Alec Burks

The Utah Jazz added an instant-offense type of scorer to their bench during the 2019-20 season in Jordan Clarkson, their first legitimate Sixth Man since Alec Burks.

Before the Utah Jazz acquired Jordan Clarkson from the Cleveland Cavaliers in December, you wouldn’t need glasses to know that bench scoring was a major problem for the team.

The Jazz needed a guy who can just go out and get a basket on any given possession. Someone like Lou Williams, or Jamal Crawford. Even like a guy they were familiar with, considering they drafted and developed him from 2012 to 2018 — Alec Burks.

Clarkson has been a better version of Burks for the Utah Jazz during his short time with the team, averaging 15.6 points in 25.3 minutes. The trade worked out in a big way for Utah, so let’s hope that they can retain JC when he hits free agency over the summer.

With the 2019-20 season suspended, now is a good time to look back on former Utah Jazz teams and players. Alec Burks had been one of Utah’s best “Sixth Starters” over the past decade, and it still disappoints me that we didn’t get to see a fully healthy AB for a long period of time.

After his first two NBA seasons, Burks really took off for the Jazz during his third year. Utah may have only won 25 games that season, but they saw key development out of guys like Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, and Gordon Hayward.

Burks averaged 14.0 points and started in just 12 games. He showed the ability to create off the dribble, getting to the basket with ease, and finishing through contact.

The following season is where Burks’ career took a swing. In 2014-15, Burks played in just 27 games due to the first of what would be a long list of injuries for the former Colorado guard. It started with a season-ending shoulder injury.

2015-16 was the year where I thought Burks could legitimately be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in the NBA. He got off to a fast start coming off Utah’s bench, only to suffer another freak accident resulting in injury. This time, it was the leg.

After that, Burks struggled to find his footing with the Jazz. He has since had stints in Cleveland, Sacramento, Golden State, and Philadelphia. He was arguably having the best season of his career before play stopped this year.

One of his best memories with the Jazz was his 17 point outing in Game 2 of the second round against the Rockets in 2018. He came in and gave Utah a huge spark off the bench at an unexpected time.

Utah has lacked electric bench scorers over the years, but they have one now in Clarkson. You can’t help but wonder where Burks’ career would be at now if he never suffered any of those major injuries. His promising stretches of basketball were consistently cut short, and that’s a shame.

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