Utah Jazz: Regrading the Jordan Clarkson trade 2 years later

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

Every contending NBA team needs a sixth man; a player who can lead their reserve unit towards a respectable offense, allowing the starters some much-needed rest over the course of the game. The Utah Jazz just happen to have the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

Jordan Clarkson is, in the parlance of NBA Twitter, a “pure hooper”. This man’s bag of dribble moves, head-fakes and off-balance jumpers is seemingly limitless. He plumbed the depths of his scoring abilities last season to the tune of an impressive 24.8 points per 36 minutes. As previously mentioned, he took home some hardware for his efforts as he was awarded the 2020-21 Sixth Man of the Year award.

Still, Clarkson is an imperfect player, a premise we’ll elaborate on later. That raises the question: what did the Utah Jazz give up to acquire the offensively gifted combo guard, and was it the right price to pay?

On first blush, that seems like a fair price for Clarkson’s services. Dante Exum entered the National Basketball Association with a lot of promise, as he was selected 5th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed the young Aussie’s career. By 2021, Exum is 26-year-old. He missed his entire sophomore season with a knee injury, played 66 games the following year, and hasn’t managed even 45 games in a season since.

Hopefully, Exum can turn his injury fortunes around. He just signed a non-guaranteed, 3-year, $15 million dollar pact with the Houston Rockets after an impressive performance in the Olympics for Team Australia. Nonetheless, even the most ardent Exum supporter would have to concede that, as of this moment, the Utah Jazz made an excellent decision in trading him for Jordan Clarkson.

As for those two second-round picks, it’s possible that in hindsight, the Cavaliers will be glad to have landed them. We’ve seen productive players slip to the second-round with increasing frequency in the NBA, with Nikola Jokic and Draymond Green serving as two prominent examples of second-round steals. With that said, contending teams like the Utah Jazz will always have to take that risk in efforts to upgrade their immediate roster: the odds of a second-round selection yielding a player of Jordan Clarkson’s (ironically, a second-round pick himself) value simply remain too low.

As for Clarkson, we referred to the imperfections in his game already, and they do exist. He is, like many undersized scoring guards, prone to bouts of inefficiency. Last season, he was shooting a solid 58% effective field goal percentage (eFG%) heading into the All-Star Break. He shot a grizzly 49 eFG% afterwards, and that trend continued into the playoffs with an eFG% of 50.9.

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That kind of slippage in offensive efficiency holds the Utah Jazz back from receiving a perfect grade for the Jordan Clarkson deal, but nonetheless, his services remain impressive value for the cost of a point guard who can’t stay healthy and two second-round picks

Utah Jazz Final Grade: A