Jordan Clarkson is a microwave scorer, an electric personality, and a fan favorite. When the Utah Jazz traded Dante Exum to acquire him, there were immediate positive results. Utah’s bench desperately needed scoring, and he provided that. Clarkson’s joyous nature and immediate on-court energy won over the fans, the team, and the coaching staff. In his first entire season with the Jazz in 2020-21, Clarkson won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
Clarkson began his tenure in Utah on fire. He had changed his shot selection, prioritizing threes over long twos and trying to get to the basket more, and it was working. Not only that, but he was hitting shots at an incredible rate. Adding together his first half-season in Utah and that great start to his second season, I was won over. I had been skeptical, but I believed he’d proven himself a changed player. I believed so strongly that he had become a genuinely efficient scorer that I wrote an article titled; Jodan Clarkson: Efficiency God.
Well, ever since the date of that article being published here in slcdunk.com, Clarkson has done his very best to prove me wrong.
Jordan Clarkson has played 98 games since that day, and in that time, he has shot 40.5% from the field and 32.6% from three. To give Jazz fans a frame of reference on how bad those percentages are, take a minute to remember the shooting struggles of Ricky Rubio and Jae Crowder during their times with the Jazz, and let’s compare them.
Ricky Rubio: 41.2% FG, 33.2% 3P
Jae Crowder: 39.6% FG, 32.8% 3P
Jordan Clarkson fits right in with these two in regards to shooting. The difference, though, is the shooting volume. While Rubio and Crowder took 10.7 and 10.2 shot attempts per game in Utah, Clarkson takes 14.5 per game. When a player shoots that poorly, more shot attempts are not good. The Utah Jazz lose a significant amount of possessions to Clarkson misses, and that hurts the team.
Utah Jazz Adjusted True Shooting— Adam Bushman (@adam_bushman) January 18, 2022
Mitchell: +13.5, +0.9
Clarkson: +5.6, -4.3
Bogdanovic: +5.3, +5.8
Conley: +2.5, +4.7
Gobert: +1.6, +17.5
Gay: -0.8, 0.0
Ingles: -2.6, +1.9
Whiteside: -2.8, +9.5
O'Neale: -3.2, +8.9#TakeNote
The shot distribution for the Jazz is an issue. While Mitchell has slowly climbed to the point of being above average in efficiency, Clarkson has only gotten worse. With so many of the team’s shots going to those two, that’s a lot of misses.
Jordan Clarkson has been one of the least efficient volume shooters in the league this year. This year, 42 qualified players in the NBA take as many or more shots per game as Clarkson. Of those 42, Clarkson ranks 36th in True Shooting percentage. For reference, Donovan Mitchell ranks 20th.
There are plenty of inefficient scorers in the NBA. Jordan Clarkson’s poor shooting is nothing we haven’t seen before. The problem is that scoring is Clarkson’s game. Most players who struggle to shoot efficiently provide value in other areas of the game. Marcus Smart locks down ball handlers on defense. Draymond Green anchors the defense and sets up teammates on offense. Even Ricky Rubio and Jae Crowder provide value through high-level team defense and passing or rebounding.
On the other hand, Clarkson really only does one thing; shooting the ball. He rarely passes, he doesn’t rebound very well, and he struggles mightily on defense. Going back to that list of high-volume shooters in the league this year, Clarkson ranks 39th out of 42 in assists per game. He ranks 41st out of 42 in rebounds per game. When his shot isn’t falling, which has become the norm, he is simply not providing anything positive on the court.
Now, I don’t mean to say that Jordan Clarkson doesn’t have value. He does. He provides spacing at all times, as opposing defenses try never to leave him open. He brings an energy and attitude that the team sometimes lacks. By all accounts, he’s well-loved and respected in the locker room. He’s wildly entertaining both on and off the court. Those are all critical elements that he brings to the team.
On top of that, when Clarkson has one of his good games, the Jazz are tough to beat. He can catch fire in a way that very few players can, and it’s incredible to watch. The issue is just that those good games are few and far between. If he can find a way to regain that shooting efficiency he started last season with, he’ll instantly help the team again. But I’ve learned my lesson with sample sizes. Outside of a small hot streak at the beginning of his Jazz career, Clarkson has always been inefficient. As long as that remains the case, he will continue to be a liability for the Utah Jazz.