Utah Jazz: Clarkson’s play could potentially keep the team afloat

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz will be without one of their best players when the NBA season resumes next month, but the newly acquired Jordan Clarkson could fill the void.

For a majority of this season, the Utah Jazz appeared as a legitimate dark horse candidate to contend for an NBA title. With a 41-23 record at the time that the season halted, the Jazz looked good, partially because of the contributions from sixth man Jordan Clarkson, whom the team acquired midseason.

Having come over from a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Clarkson was a game-changer for the Jazz as a much-needed spark off the bench. In 34 games, the 28-year-old averaged 15.6 points per game on an impressive 48.2 percent field goal shooting and 36.6 percent 3-point shooting.

Clarkson’s play uplifted the team’s second unit and only bolstered their dark horse chances in this loaded Western Conference.

However, the team recently lost second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic, who elected to have season-ending wrist surgery. The decision was necessary, but a significant hit to the Jazz’s chances of contending, as the forward was in the midst of a career year alongside Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

With Bogdanovic sidelined, many have already debunked the idea that the fourth-seeded Jazz could contend in the upcoming postseason and will be an early exit. While that is justifiable for some, if there is any hope that the Jazz can contend when the season resumes, it starts with Clarkson.

Mitchell and Gobert proved to be a top-tier duo this season, but Bogdanovic served as the perfect third piece to compliment them. Bogdanovic provided the much-needed offense for this team, being one of two players in the league to average 20 points per game while shooting 40 percent from 3-point territory and 90 percent from the free-throw line.

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With that gaping hole now in their offense, the team needs someone to help keep them afloat and fill the void. Clarkson proved that he could also be a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands. Now, Utah needs him more than ever.

Bogdanovic’s 20.2 points per game will not be easily replaceable. With more touches, Clarkson will be much more involved with the offense. Clarkson now needs to slide up into that role as the second-leading scorer behind Mitchell, and there will be pressure on him to perform once the season begins.

Regardless of how far this team goes in the postseason, if Clarkson performs at a high level, he could earn a very lucrative extension from the team. In the last season of a four-year $50 million deal, these upcoming eight seeding games and postseason could raise the guard’s value for his impending unrestricted free agency.

Clarkson is undoubtedly one of the best sixth men in the league today and has a chance to bolster his status further with some stellar play in the resumed season. Despite several players across the league sharing their concerns over returning to play this season, the guard assured that he was ready to play in an Instagram post with teammate Donovan Mitchell.

The caption reads, “it will be only one reasons we going to disney for…one goal, one reason……🏆,” while the tandem worked out together recently.

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The former All-Rookie selection is confident in his team’s ability to silence the doubters and make a run in this irregular season. If he can translate his confidence to the court, keep an eye on the Jazz when the season resumes next month.