Even though Jordan Clarkson is struggling from distance, he’s keeping defenses honest
Clarkson is still averaging 16.5 points per game but is hitting below 30% from 3-point range
MILWAUKEE — Jordan Clarkson hasn’t been very efficient through the first six games of the 2021-22 NBA season. But he isn’t worried about it.
Clarkson’s streak of 99 consecutive games scoring from beyond the arc came to an end Sunday night, but his teammates’ only message is to keep on shooting.
Fans have quickly become concerned about the perimeter game of the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, but it seems like they are the only ones.
The thing about slumps is that they usually come to an end, and having one in the infant stages of the season is not something that raises the alarm. In games four through 10 of the 2020-21 season, Bojan Bogdanovic shot just 27.5% from 3-point range and the same thing happened — fans started to worry and the team stayed resolute.
“I tell him the same thing I told Bojan last year,” Snyder said of Clarkson on Sunday night after the Jazz’s 107-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. “It can’t go in if you don’t shoot it.”
Even when Clarkson’s long-range shots aren’t going in right now, the defense knows that he’s not someone to leave open, so he puts pressure on the opposition. He’s so crafty with the ball and can find small seams that allow him to score close to the basket; keeping him contained is a job that requires a ton of energy. If nothing else, he’s wearing down the defense.
Clarkson is still averaging 16.5 points per game even though he is hitting below 30% from 3-point range and if it were all just about his offensive game, the Jazz would still probably be saying the same things. But Clarkson is not just focusing his efforts on the that side of the ball.
His defensive efforts have been noticed this season and he had quite a few plays down the stretch of Sunday’s game that were critical in the Jazz being able to keep their advantage over the Bucks.
“Hustle plays, extra effort, JC getting steals, that stuff right there is what takes us to the next level,” Donovan Mitchell said. “And being able to do it in crunch time is huge.”
Snyder has long said that Clarkson doesn’t get the recognition deserved for the effort he puts in and pride he has on the defensive end. Clarkson said he knows his scoring will come, that’s the part of the game that comes easy to him and will level out. It’s all the other stuff that he’s focusing on this season, in an effort to get the Jazz closer to their ultimate goal.
“I feel like I’ve been saying it for a long time, but his care factor, his will, and he’s got a lot of pride, he wants to win,” Snyder said. “He can really score but he wants to win more than he wants to score. There is a competitiveness where sometimes if you’re not making shots you figure out other ways to impact the game and that’s exactly what he did.”
As for the 99-game 3-point streak ending, Clarkson’s thoughts on the matter were about as Clarkson-esque as they could be.
“Just start another one.”
There are still 76 games remaining in the season. That leaves a lot of room for Clarkson to get back to hitting shots at a high level and the Jazz fully expect him to do so.