Where do we start with this one? Let’s talk about Jordan Clarkson.
Clarkson was brilliant in this one. From the start, he was the driving force of the Jazz offense, hitting shots everywhere on the court. Clarkson ended the game with 39 points while going 15/26 from the field and 7/14 from three. He also dropped 6 absolute dimes as he carved up the Pelicans' defense. Clarkson is consistently finding ways to help the Jazz win, and with each game, he seems to be finding more and more consistency. Because he’s leveled up as a playmaker, there’s no simple way to guard him. Even last year, teams could load up on Clarkson knowing he’d likely shoot the ball and they could get a bad shot from him. Not anymore.
Get on your computers, pull out your cell phones, it’s time to get the Lauri Markkanen all-star bid going. With his hot start to the season, there was a part of me that wondered if Markkanen might slow down, but he’s only gotten better. Tonight he scored 31 points and hit big-time shots. He also took ten free throws knocking each one down. This is the type of play from superstars, and if Markkanen keeps this up, there’s no reason to think he can’t be representing Utah at all-star weekend. Who would have thought!?!
Finally, a lot needs to be said about Walker Kessler. To close this game, Will Hardy closed with Kessler and had him playing in overtime, and the Jazz needed every minute. Kessler is becoming a special player for the Jazz, and there’s no reason to think he can’t be locked into the starting lineup for a long time. That gives the Jazz a lot of good problems. They’ll still start Vanderbilt, most likely, but they can adjust if they need. Kessler is already an elite drop big, and they can play him big minutes against a team playing someone like Zion Williamson. Against more spread teams, they can have Vanderbilt get more minutes. It’s a sign of how versatile the Jazz are and that they can beat you in a myriad of ways.