Who Should Jazz Start At Point Guard?

Jul 11, 2023, 5:18 PM | Updated: 7:15 pm

Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) celebrates Jordan Clarkson’s (00) three point shot...

Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) celebrates Jordan Clarkson’s (00) three point shot (Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz have a point guard problem heading into the 2023-24 season.

While the frontcourt is set with Lauri Markkanen, John Collins, and Walker Kessler, the Jazz have two backcourt spots to fill, and potentially five bodies capable of filling the roles.

Today, let’s focus on the point guard position as the roster continues to take shape.

The Case To Start Each Jazz Point Guard

At the moment, five names are true candidates to start at point guard.

Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Kris Dunn each played the role for stretches last season, while rookie Keyonte George has shown a knack for playing the position in summer league.

Here’s a look at the case for each of the five players, and why they could be named the opening night starter in October.

Collin Sexton

Sexton should likely be considered the favorite to start at point guard for the Jazz, having significant experience playing the position, while showing real promise in the role at times.

Two hamstring injuries robbed Sexton of the opportunity to lock down the position after the Jazz traded Mike Conley last season, but he showed promise in brief stints as a starter.

In 15 starts with the team, Sexton averaged 16.5 points, 4.8 assists, and 2.2 rebounds while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 37 percent from the three-point line on 2.6 attempts per game.


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The guard had a better than 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and saw his shooting efficiency climb playing alongside the starters.

However, while the Jazz were 24-24 with Sexton in the rotation, they were only 6-9 in his 15 starts, and clearly missed a more traditional offensive initiator.

Sexton’s offensive efficiency and overall production are difficult to dispute, but he may be the least natural playmaker in the Jazz’s backcourt, which could make him better served as a high-scoring sixth man.

Jordan Clarkson

While Sexton may be the slight favorite to start at point guard, Clarkson is the likely favorite overall to earn one of the two starting backcourt positions.

The veteran guard was the Jazz’s second-leading scorer at just over 20 points per game last season and flashed significantly improved playmaking averaging a career-high 4.4 assists.

And yet, the team’s coaching staff seemed to favor playing Clarkson off the ball, where he recorded nearly two-thirds of his minutes as a shooting guard.

It’s hard to see the Jazz pushing Clarkson back to the bench after signing him to a three-year extension based largely on his strong play last season, but he may not be the best fit as the lead initiator.

Clarkson is still a good-but-not-great three-point shooter knocking down 33 percent of his attempts last season, though, at 7.5 attempts per game, his raw volume is more than double the next closest candidate to start at point guard.

With Collins and Kessler expected to start in the frontcourt, floor spacing will be a necessity in the backcourt. Based on Clarkson’s prolific numbers, he’ll likely start somewhere, but his average efficiency could move him off the ball.

Talen Horton-Tucker

After a trade sent Conley to Minnesota, and Sexton was bumped out of the lineup with an injury, Horton-Tucker became a defacto starter for the Jazz, where his results were mixed.

The 22-year-old’s raw numbers were impressive, recording 18.2 points, 6.0 assists, and 5.1 rebounds underscoring the raw potential he shows at such a young age.

However, he shot just 43 percent from the floor and 32 percent from the three-point line despite an enormous usage rate, and the Jazz went just 7-12 with him starting.

Horton-Tucker shined brightest when he was handed the ball and given the green light, but with better talent and more efficient scorers in the frontcourt, the Jazz simply don’t need a player to occupy that role.

The fifth-year guard has certainly earned the right to compete for the starting point guard spot, and with better shooting, he could potentially win the job, but as a career 28 percent three-point shooter, that seems like a longshot.

Kris Dunn

Perhaps the hardest player on the Jazz roster to diagnose, Dunn is certainly the biggest dark horse to earn the starting point guard spot next season.

Dunn signed with the Jazz on a 10-day contract in late February and quickly made his presence felt on the roster.

The veteran guard appeared in 22 games for the Jazz, scored in double digits in 17 of them, and recorded five or more assists in 15 outings.

More impressively, Dunn showed off a dramatically improved jump shot, knocking down 53 percent of his field goal attempts and 47 percent of his threes on 1.6 attempts per game.

Overall the guard averaged 13.2 points, 5.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and was by far the Jazz’s best perimeter defender at any point last season.

It’s safe to say that had Dunn held that production over the length of the season, he’d be the odds-on favorite to start at point guard, and the Jazz would be in good hands with him at the helm.

However, Dunn’s resume is unquestionably short with the Jazz, and his contract isn’t even guaranteed for next season.

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Additionally, history says Dunn’s shooting numbers should plummet back to earth as a career 43 percent shooter including 31 percent from the three-point line, and his durability remains a significant question mark.

Throw in the fact that his age doesn’t perfectly fit the team’s timeline, and the Jazz have no long-term obligations to the veteran, and there are plenty of reasons why Dunn shouldn’t be starting next season.

If the guard can pick up where he left off last season in fall camp, he’s a threat to steal the starting spot, but big picture, the deck is probably stacked against him.

Keyonte George

While George seemed to have very little odds of earning a starting spot after slipping to the Jazz with the 16th pick in the draft, his standout play during Summer League has to have given him a puncher’s chance.

After having a negative assist-to-turnover ratio in college, George has flashed strong signs as a playmaker in his first five summer league appearances, while also shooting the ball incredibly well.

The rookie has avearging 21.2 points, 6.0 assists, and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 46 percent from the floor, 38 percent from three, and turning the ball over only twice per game.

George’s smaller frame and early deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball will likely keep him out of the starting lineup, but his summer league performance has been nothing short of outstanding.

The guard likely won’t start for the Jazz on opening night, but with his rapid development and high upside, he could earn a starting job before the season is through.

Who Should Start For The Jazz?

Each of the five players listed has a compelling argument to start, and truthfully, their play alone likely won’t be the lone deciding factor in who earns the nod.

If John Collins continues to struggle to shoot the ball as he did last season, a guard who can reliably space the floor will be at a premium.

However, if Collins numbers rebound, shooting may not be the deciding factor, and being a purer facilitator could hold increased value.

Overall, the Jazz are lucky to have too many candidates rather than too few, but deciding who starts won’t be an easy task.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Who Should Jazz Start At Point Guard?