Jordan Clarkson: Utah Jazz Season In Review

Apr 6, 2020, 3:15 PM | Updated: Apr 24, 2020, 3:40 pm

Jordan Clarkson - Utah Jazz...

Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz warms up for the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on December 28, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA is in a standstill as a result of the coronavirus outbreak that has sidelined professional sports across the globe. With 18 games left to play in the regular season for the Utah Jazz, and a date with the postseason on the line, it’s unclear when or if the season will return.

With game action in a holding pattern, it’s an ideal time to look at each player on the Jazz roster and how they have performed this season. Have they exceeded or failed to meet expectations, have they improved their game, remained steady, or seen a decrease in their level of play. Finally, how will they impact the team when games return, whether that’s to finish the 2019-20 season, or to begin the 2020-21 season.

The order of player evaluations will be done by jersey number, starting with the team’s lowest, and working to the team’s highest number.

Jordan Clarkson – 00 – Guard

Stats: 15.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.6 apg: .482 FG%/.366 3PT%/.780 FT%

The Jazz acquired Jordan Clarkson on a December 23 trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for guard Dante Exum. After seasons of waiting for the former fifth overall pick to develop into an impact payer, the Jazz cut bait with the Australian guard in favor of the previously mercurial Clarkson.

Clarkson had been a surprise breakout scorer with the Los Angeles Lakers during the first three and a half years of his career before being shipped to the LeBron James led Cavaliers for a future first-round draft pick.

With an expiring $13 million contract, the Cavs were looking to get an asset back for the potent bench scorer, while the Jazz were looking to find a way out from underneath the two years and $20 million left on Exum’s deal while adding an identity to the bench unit.

In short, Clarkson has quickly proved to be one of the best midseason acquisitions in Jazz history, especially considering the price the team paid to get him.

The sixth-year guard made his Jazz debut on December 26 and despite an inefficient scoring night, made his presence known as an isolation scorer capable of getting to the rim, finishing with a series of creative release points.

In just his second game with the team, Clarkson scored 19 points, matching the season-high of any Jazz reserve scorer to that date in a 120-107 victory in Los Angeles over the Clippers, the team’s best win of the season. In game three against the Detroit Pistons, Clarkson became the first Jazz bench player to score 20 points this season, a feat he’s accomplished 11 times this season, including two games scoring at least 30 points.


Since acquiring Clarkson, the Jazz have a record of 23-11, after an 18-12 start to the season, seeing a seven percent increase in win percentage since making the trade.

Based on Clarkson’s history as a high usage scorer on traditionally non-playoff teams, it was difficult to set a firm expectation of how Clarkson was going to perform for a team hoping to make a deep postseason run.

However, it’s safe to say the newest Jazz guard has easily exceeded expectations and has become one of the most important players in the team’s rotation.

Since joining the team, Clarkson’s 15.6 points per game average is the second-best of his career behind last season’s averages in Cleveland, meanwhile, his .584 true shooting percentage is the most efficient mark of his career.

Though Clarkson’s head down scoring mentality has resulted in stretches of me-first basketball from the entire roster, his addition has been overwhelmingly positive. Clarkson still shows flashes of his point guard abilities delivering highly creative passes, and his effort on defense makes up for a lack of natural instincts.

Perhaps most surprising has been Clarkson’s fit within the team’s locker room. After beginning his career in Los Angeles, the one-time high profile guard seemed like a gamble fitting into Utah’s small-town culture. Instead, Clarkson’s laid back, ‘Good Vibe Tribe’ approach to the game on and off the floor has made him an ideal fit in the state.

The biggest question surrounding Clarkson’s time in Utah is whether the guard has already played his final game in a Jazz uniform.

If the season is heading for a cancellation, Clarkson is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer in a weakened free agency class, especially at the scoring guard position. With a revamped image on a winning team, Clarkson could see his stock rise in the eye of teams looking to add an instant scoring punch to their rotation.

Strangely, the coronavirus outbreak may give the Jazz a leg up in resigning the guard. With a significant loss in Basketball Related Income, the NBA’s salary cap is due to drop next season from expectations. With a lower salary cap, there will be fewer teams spending money this summer, meaning a player like Clarkson may not see the bidding war for his services he could have otherwise expected.

The Jazz own Clarkson’s Bird Rights, allowing the team to go over the salary cap to resign the guard if required this summer. With Clarkson’s high level of play and natural fit with the roster, it seems he’d be the top target for the Jazz to retain this offseason.

In an up and down season for the Jazz, Clarkson has been an overwhelming bright spot that has provided the Jazz a release valve for an offense that highly reliant on three-point shooting.

Though far from a perfect player, Clarkson has played a significant role with the team as a scorer while bringing contagious energy to a bench unit that was floundering through the first two months of the season. To receive a player of his quality while also managing to get out from underneath the bloated contract of Exum while only adding future second-round picks to the trade continues to show the savviness and recognition of talent around the NBA from the team’s front office.

If the Jazz are unable to resign Clarkson this summer, they still received good value by saving money on the final year of Exum’s deal, though bringing him back at a similar price tag to his current deal, he could be a crucial piece in the team’s long term future.

Jordan Clarkson Letter Grade: A-

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Jordan Clarkson: Utah Jazz Season In Review