For many Jazz fans, Jordan Clarkson is the basketball equivalent of black licorice--you either love him or you hate him. This isn't the case with everyone, but I've heard many of my friends groan when he pulls up from 30 feet away or shoots an out-of-control leaner with a defender in his grill. I've also heard those same fans praise him for his ability to instantly catch fire and carry the entire offensive load out of nowhere.
Clarkson's production is often reminiscent of a gamma ray. If I can bore you with a quick science lesson, gamma rays have the shortest wavelength but the highest frequency of any light wave. The highs and lows take turns in rapid succession. Similarly, Clarkson's production can fluctuate from amazingly high to frustratingly low. He can shoot Utah out of a game and back into a game before you even know what's happened. When he's on fire, you shouldn't be surprised. You shouldn't be shocked to see him forcing shots that never had a chance of hitting their target. With Clarkson, you take the good with the bad.
On a rebuilding team like Utah, he isn't the type of player you need. While not nearly as poor of a decision-maker, his situation is reminiscent of Jordan Poole with the Washington Wizards. If your team wants to be competitive, he could be the spark that lifts his team to a win. But for a rebuilding team, that type of player is unnecessary. On the other hand, Clarkson has improved his playmaking ability in the past few years, now averaging nearly 5 assists per game with Utah.
Clarkson's skillset was valuable in this past trade deadline. At his age, he likely won't be of value to the Jazz when their young talent has developed into a team with championship aspirations, so it wasn't surprising to hear his name thrown around in trade rumors. Unfortunately for NBA fans, the 2024 trade deadline was relatively uneventful. Many prominent trade candidates passed through the deadline without being moved, including Clarkson.
Clarkson has been in the rumor mill since the Jazz began their rebuild, yet here we are with Clarkson still on the team. Where do we go from here?
Well, many voices around the NBA will ramble about teams' timelines and championship windows. A commonly held opinion is that if a player is older than a rising young core, he won't be useful when his team is ready to play meaningful postseason basketball. Even Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was rumored to be available for trade back in 2021 due to him being too old for their timeline (he was only 23 years old!). In Clarkson's case, he is 31 years old and an outlier on Utah's very young roster. While he likely doesn't "fit the timeline" of Utah's plans, the presence of an NBA veteran can be very beneficial for creating a winning culture within the locker room.
For now, Clarkson is still one of the most talented players on Utah's roster. With his ability to catch fire and shoot the lights out, he will remain a valuable asset if the Jazz choose to trade him in the future. As an improved playmaker, he's able to get his young teammates involved in the offense and provide opportunities for their growth. A well-liked player and good presence in Utah's locker room, Clarkson's value goes beyond what he provides on the court. While it's not always pretty, Jazz fans should be happy to have his talents at their team's disposal. He won't be with the Jazz forever, but fans should be happy to have him for as long as we do. We'll miss him when he's gone.