8. Jazz Guard Jordan Clarkson
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz open their season on October 20, just eight days from today. With the clock ticking, we look at 50 things for Jazz fans to be excited about leading up to the 2021-22 NBA season. Coming in at number eight, Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson.
Jazz Guard Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson enters the season looking to defend his Sixth Man of the Year award. After averaging better than 18 points per game last year, Clarkson became the first Jazzman to take home the trophy, edging out teammate Joe Ingles who finished second in the voting.
After two terrific years anchoring the Jazz second unit, Clarkson should once again factor in as a major piece of the team’s puzzle which his electric scoring and unique brand of leadership.
Though Clarkson isn’t a traditional veteran in the locker room, his laid-back personality has provided the Jazz with a welcome counter to the pressure of an 82 game regular season.
The question for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year will be whether he can continue to improve on his game, or whether the player the Jazz got over each of the last two seasons is the best Clarkson has to offer.
So far, Clarkson has been at his best operating as a dynamic scoring threat capable of carrying a large offensive load against the opposing team’s second unit. However, he’s an indifferent defender and can run into long stretches of inconsistency.
After a brilliant start to the season that saw Clarkson average 18 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the floor and 37 percent from the three-point line, the guard’s scoring average jumped to 18.9 points per game over the final 29 games of the season, but his efficiency plummeted shooting just 40 percent from the floor and 31 percent from the three-point line.
Some of that dip can be attributed to the absence of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell which placed a larger burden on Clarkson to carry the team’s scoring and playmaking duties, but the inefficiency hurt the guard’s overall effectiveness, regardless of the cause.
As fans have looked at external additions to improve the team, a more consistent Clarkson, throughout the season could provide the Jazz with an enormous boost come playoff time.
While the guard saw his three-point shooting improve from 30 percent to close the season to 35 percent in the postseason, his overall field goal percentage remained at 40 percent, hurting the Jazz’s efficiency off the bench.
The Jazz second unit should be helped by the addition of rookie Jared Butler who shined in the team’s first two preseason games. Butler has shown off the ability to both operate as a playmaker in the pick and roll and a go-to scoring option which could limit the number of bad possessions Clarkson has to finish off the bench.
How Clarkson responds to having another weapon in the backcourt with the second unit could be a major factor in the team’s overall success. Coming off the best season of his career, Clarkson anchoring the Jazz bench unit and defending his Sixth Man of the Year award is unquestionably one of the top storylines heading into opening night.