Utah Jazz: Buying or selling 3 players’ rankings in ESPN’s top 100

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

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson ESPN top 100 rating: 90

Quin Snyder’s sixth man extraordinaire Jordan Clarkson is the first Jazzman to appear on ESPN’s top 100. As the NBA’s most recent recipient of the Sixth Man of the Year award, it may seem unfathomable to some that 89 players across the NBA ranked higher than Clarkson. In part, that may speak to the wealth of talent that populates the league, but a comparison between Clarkson and the two players ranked immediately ahead of him should provide clarity on the accuracy of this ranking.

Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington ranked 89th on ESPN’s list. Clarkson outpaced Covington in terms of both PER and VORP last season. He particularly trounced Portland’s 3-and-D specialist in PER, at 17.1 compared to an exceedingly low 11.2. The margin between the two in VORP was much lower, but Clarkson still held an advantage at 1.4 to 1.0.

Covington may embody the sort-of player that advanced metrics treat unfairly. His value is by far most pronounced on the defensive end. Regardless, his Defensive Box Plus/Minus of 112 from last season suggests that he may have even suffered a drop-off on that end.

Seth Curry of the Philadelphia 76ers came in at 88th on the list, and again, Clarkson’s performance with the Utah Jazz last season was significantly more impressive than his based on PER and VORP. Curry posted marks of 12.5 and 0.5 in each category respectively. The only justification one could imagine for Curry’s placement ahead of Clarkson would be his shooting efficiency, as his True Shooting % (TS%) of 60.7% was comfortably stronger than Clarkson’s 54.9% from 2020-21.

One commonality between Covington and Curry is that each player is effectively a specialist: Covington fits the NBA’s coveted 3-and-D mold, whereas Curry is an elite three-point specialist (hence the impressive TS% from last season). Undeniably, each player has value, but a player with the depth of offensive ability of Jordan Clarkson holds more value to an NBA team in the game’s current, offensively-focused form.

Indeed, it seems ESPN sold Utah Jazz super-sub Jordan Clarkson slightly short.

Verdict: Sell.