Former Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson wins 6MOTY Award with Jazz, keeps thriving in ideal role

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson shoots the ball. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson shoots the ball. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Jordan Clarkson has always been a player with immense talent. That has never been in question. What had been, on the other hand, was his role at nearly every stop on his NBA journey.

Clarkson debuted with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2014-15 season, putting up averages of 11.9 points, 3.5 assists and 3.2 rebounds and in just 25.0 minutes per game. Not bad for a rookie year but not enough to suggest that he would eventually win any significant NBA honors right?

But what role was Clarkson best suited for?

The Missouri product continued to develop his game despite playing for an awful Lakers team but his role with Los Angeles always seemed to fluctuate from microwave scorer off the bench to solid starter and back. It became clear that LA didn’t quite know how to best utilize him.

He remained with the team from that 2014-15 season right up to the trade deadline of the 2017-18 season when he was acquired along with former teammate Larry Nance Jr. by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That trade dropped Clarkson right into the pressure cooker that was Cleveland in the midst of another run to the NBA Finals, the fourth such in as many years. Not exactly the most forgiving place to be for a young player who had yet to taste playoff basketball. Clarkson would need to adapt on the fly to his new team, his experience with the late Kobe Bryant possibly helping him play with another generational talent in LeBron James.

Suffice it to say, that things didn’t pan out exactly as the Cavaliers would have hoped as nearly all of Clarkson’s counting stats dipped across the board during the remaining 28 games of the regular season. Things got even worse in the playoffs as he was down to 4.7 points on 30.1 percent from the field in only 15.1 minutes of action across 19 games.

With LeBron departing in free agency, Clarkson saw a return to form with the Cavs.

Year 2 in Cleveland could be described as a return to normalcy for Clarkson as the pressure of winning departed along with James, to of all places, Jordan’s former team in the Los Angeles Lakers.

Enter Collin Sexton, the eighth overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and a player whom some think could best be utilized like Clarkson. Sexton started 72 games that season which allowed Clarkson to play a more free brand of basketball while running the second unit which in turn led to a then-career-high 16.8 points per game.

His ability to run the offense off the bench was an asset for the Wine and Gold. It’s a role that the Cavs are clearly still trying to fill. Having a player of Clarkson’s caliber ready and willing to accept whatever role was being given to him was tremendous for a team entering its second major rebuild post-LeBron.

Although the Cavaliers only managed to win 19 games during the 2018-19 season, he was a bright spot that could always be counted on to provide instant offense at the drop of a hat. Clarkson’s influence on younger players such as Darius Garland, who has a ton of momentum heading into Year 3, along with Cedi Osman, and the aforementioned Sexton can still be felt.

He would remain in Cleveland for 29 additional games during the 2019-20 season before being dealt to the Utah Jazz for Dante Exum and two future second-round picks closing the chapter on a memorable portion of his career.

A new chapter begins for the former Cavs microwave scorer and San Antonio native in Utah

The Utah Jazz immediately slotted Jordan in a role that he is all too familiar. He was installed as the team’s sixth man. This role, which Clarkson pretty much perfected in Cleveland, is perhaps what he was destined to play in and he has thrived in it thus far. In 110 career games with the Jazz, he has put up averages of 17.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 26.0 minutes per game.

All of Clarkson’s hard work has paid off recently as he was just named the NBA’s Sixth Man of The Year. The NBA’s Official Communications Twitter account tweeted out the voting results for the award. Take a look:

It’s always nice to see former Cavaliers doing well and achieving new career heights.

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And here’s to hoping this is the first of many for Clarkson, who continues to thrive in an ideal role.