Jordan Clarkson flirting with Utah Jazz legend’s all-time mark

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Utah Jazz’s “Flame Thrower” deserves a “Free Thrower” nickname as well.

There’s little room for error from here on out by the premier Utah Jazz free throw shooter.

Yet had the regular season wrapped up with Friday night’s 113-106 home win over the Chicago Bulls, then Jordan Clarkson would now own the franchise record for the highest free throw percentage in a single regular season.

Through the league-leading 37-11 start by the Jazzmen, following Clarkson’s 4-for-4 clip against the Bulls as part of his 19 points in the contest, the NBA Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner is now 83-for-87 from the charity stripe.

That equates to 95.4 percent. And that slightly edges out — for now, anyway — the all-time franchise mark of 95.0 percent (171-for-180), which legendary Utah sharpshooter Jeff Hornacek turned in for his final campaign before retiring 21 years ago.

A week ago, following Clarkson’s 4-for-5 clip in a 117-114 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies, he momentarily fell even with Hornacek in this regard. Across the Jazz’s past four outings, though, the 28-year-old guard has built a bit of a cushion via 11-for-11 freebie perfection.

Still, crunching the numbers, it looks as if just one more miss at any point in his next 11 attempts would at least temporarily drop Clarkson below Hornacek’s 95.0 percent.

How the top Utah Jazz percentage stacks up to the rest of the league

Jordan Clarkson, who has made only 82.8 percent of his career free throw attempts, is the NBA’s No. 1 marksman right now in terms of free throw percentage this season. Atlanta Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari is next on the list at 93.9 percent.

However, the league is presently producing an abundance of foul line wizardry with eight players shooting better than 90.0 percent.

Plus, of those eight, six are at or above 93.0 percent. Moreover, one of those six just so happens to be illustrious Golden State Warriors sniper Steph Curry, who has finished with the NBA’s supreme free throw percentage in four past seasons and owns the top active career mark at 90.8 percent.

As for the all-time season record, Clarkson would now have to knock down 119 more in a row just to match the 98.1 percent that Jose Calderon pulled off as a member of the 2008-09 Toronto Raptors.

Not gonna happen.

Not only would that require utter magic on Clarkson’s part, but also with only 24 games remaining on Utah’s slate in this shortened 72-game regular season, there’s practically no chance he’ll land at the foul line that many more times.

On the other hand, Clarkson’s season mark thus far would place him at No. 4 in NBA history, and No. 2 (95.8 percent by Houston Rockets Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy in 1980-81) is well within reach.

But while records like this one are fun and all to watch play out, it seems the moral of this story is that Clarkson should simply be on the lookout for ways to wind up on the foul line a tad more often — particularly come playoff time.

After all, the Jazz “Flame Thrower” appears to have no intention of extinguishing his “Free Thrower” superpower this year.

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Jordan Clarkson and the Utah Jazz host the Orlando Magic (17-31) at 7 p.m. MT Saturday.