Jamal Crawford made a living by feasting on opposing team’s benches. As a 3-time 6th Man of the Year Award winner, you always had to be aware of where he was on the court. On any given night he could put up 20+ points and barely break a sweat. He’s the type of player that most benches need to take some scoring pressure off their best players and sustain leads. He’s the exact type of player that Donovan Mitchell needed for this Utah Jazz bench.
And I think the Jazz front office found him in Jordan Clarkson.
Initially, you might feel like that’s far-fetched. There’s no way Clarkson is that good right? Well, think again. It’s closer than you might think. Here are some career stats to compare the two.
Per 36 Minutes
Had I blinded their names from you, would you have actually known which one was which? I mean, they are even both 6’5” with a 6’10” wingspan. Clarkson has been the better overall shooter in his career, but Crawford was a bigger threat from 3 on average. Clarkson rebounds a little more, while Crawford gets a few more assists. Just their raw numbers here were shockingly similar to me.
Per 100 Possessions
The per 100 possessions statistics will show rather similar data, but helps account for the pace that each player’s teams have played with throughout their careers. Again, we see very similar numbers across the board. Even their Offensive Ratings and Defensive Ratings are within 4 of each other. Honestly, I could be talked into either one of these off the bench just looking at these stats. Jazz bias aside, I think I’d even go with Clarkson if I didn’t know anything else about these two.
Here we start to see Crawford separate himself from Clarkson. He’s got the better of him on Win Shares, Box Plus-Minus, and VORP. However, this isn’t entirely Clarkson’s fault in my opinion. Have you seen the teams that Clarkson has played for throughout his career? He played for the really bad Lakers teams and the really bad Cavaliers teams. They only winning season he’s taken part of was 1 year with LeBron in Cleveland. Unfortunately for Jordan, that means he’s had a reputation of a guy putting up numbers on bad teams. Clearly he isn’t a franchise piece that can will a team to a winning season, but so far his time in Utah has been filled with wins.
For the sake of comparison, let’s look at just his Utah advanced numbers. His Win Shares per 48 is .109 and his Box Plus-Minus is -1.0. That’s now putting him right in line with or better than Jamal Crawford, much like his other stats are. He’s finally on a talented team and has a defined role and he’s excelling.
The Utah Jazz pulled the trigger on an early trade by sending Dante Exum to Cleveland in return for Jordan Clarkson. I was a little underwhelmed at this news initially. I apparently couldn’t look past the completely untrue stigma that Clarkson isn’t a winning basketball player. Well, so far the Utah Jazz are 11-1 since his arrival (prior to last night’s game). I’d say that’s a winning basketball player. And he’s been fantastic off the bench, scoring over 15 points per game and providing significant help for Donovan Mitchell. Nothing he does appears unsustainable either, so I feel like the Clarkson we’ve seen is the Clarkson we’ll get, which is a huge development for Utah.
The Utah Jazz also acquired his bird rights. That means they can go over the cap to bring him back this summer. When the Jazz first traded for Jordan Clarkson, I thought he might just be used as a higher contract and flipped for a different piece. Now that I’ve seen him player with the NBA’s best logo on his chest, I want him to stay through the year and be retained in the summer. Because the Utah Jazz may have found themselves the next Jamal Crawford.