After an interesting (and disappointing, to most people) start to the season, the Utah Jazz decided to mix things up. Two days before Christmas, they traded Dante Exum and some future second-round draft picks for Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
ESPN story on Utah acquiring Cleveland's Jordan Clarkson to bolster bench, sending out former No. 5 overall pick Dante Exum and two second-round picks. https://t.co/r1LbbBOrHt— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 24, 2019
This move was a bit of an eye-opener (at least for me) for several reasons. I really couldn’t believe the Jazz actually sent Dante Exum away. It seemed like everyone in the organization and front office really believed in him and believed he could be a great player, if he could just stay healthy. Unfortunately, staying healthy was never something that was a part of the Dante Exum story in Utah. He will be missed, for sure. Love u Dante, good luck wherever you go.
“Jordan Clarkson???” That was second thought after hearing the trade news. It seemed so random to me. I think it’s pretty normal as an NBA fan to watch other teams around the league and daydream and fantasize about other players playing for your team. I can be honest when I say I have never, ever thought about Jordan Clarkson playing for the Utah Jazz. So when this news came out, I was a bit shook. But as a sat there thinking about the trade, it started to make a bit more sense to me, and here’s why.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Jordan Clarkson? For me, it’s scoring. He’s one of those guys that you will randomly see go off with 30+ points off the bench. In fact, in the last two seasons, he has scored 30+ points off the bench three separate times, including 42 points in a triple-overtime thriller last season.
The Utah Jazz bench has struggled to score this season. It’s probably been the team’s greatest weakness. They just haven’t been able to get consistent points out of their secondary players. Jordan Clarkson changes that.
So far this season he has played in 29 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and come off the bench for every one of them. He’s averaging 14.6 points per game, which is fourth-most on the Jazz roster currently behind Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Rudy Gobert. So far this season, he’s scored the fourth-most bench points in the NBA. He’s having career-high numbers in true shooting percentage, eFG%, three-point rate and more. He’s lowkey having a really solid season off the bench. Clarkson is a versatile scorer, and can get buckets from pretty much anywhere on the court when needed.
Taking a gander at Clarkson’s shot chart from this season, it tells us a lot of his story.
You can see he’s shooting the three-ball pretty well this year. At 37%, it’s his second-best season of his career so far in shooting the deep ball. He’s also shooting 40% on catch-and-shoot threes, which is what you like to see when you have a guy like Donovan Mitchell on your team slashing through the lane and creating space. If Jordan Clarkson can come in and knock down open threes, he could be a huge asset to this team.
His best game this season came about a month ago against the Portland Trail Blazers. Clarkson scored 28 points on 6-6 three-point shooting and 10-12 from the free-throw line.
Obviously, you can’t expect 100% three-point shooting nights out of him, like ever. But it’s a good sign to bring in a guy that’s scored a lot of points off the bench this season.
Looking back to the shotchart, you can see that Clarkson isn’t the most efficient scorer in the world. He’s probably going to take some pretty ill-advised shots early in the shot clock or some contested fadeaways that might want to make you pull your hair out. These types of plays will go hand-in-hand with the other great plays that he’ll make off the bench for the Jazz, that’s probably just how it’s going to be.
The worst thing about Jordan Clarkson is probably his defense, or I guess, the lack thereof. He’s had a negative defensive box plus-minus every single season of his NBA career. He’s also been on a lot of really bad defensive teams, which doesn’t help his case. But if there’s anywhere that this trade will backfire for the Jazz, it’s on the defensive end.
Jazz second unit defense with Emmanuel Mudiay and Jordan Clarkson pic.twitter.com/eb61E7qJ2s— Justin Phan (@jphanned) December 24, 2019
It will be interesting to see how Quin Snyder handles Clarkson in his defensive scheming, and if he can get more out of him that other coaches have.
Some people have swag, others don’t. Jordan Clarkson has swag. What does Swag have to do with playing basketball for the Utah Jazz? Absolutely nothing. Here’s a few of his finest work.
Im not even being hyperbolic this is the worst fit i have ever seen in my life pic.twitter.com/XC0Q8Y9zAh— The Falcon (@SupremeOne3) December 13, 2019