Being the point-of-attack defender with the game on the line and the ball in Kawhi Leonard’s hands is probably one of the hardest things to do in the NBA.

There aren’t many people that are up to the task and there have been many people burned in that exact position. And I doubt very seriously that, prior to Friday night, anyone would have said, “I’ve got just the man for the job and his name is Jordan Clarkson!”

Well, here we are. It’s a brave new world.

Let me set the scene for you. With 5:14 left to play it was a one-point game — the Clippers leading after Talen Horton-Tucker had hit two free throws.

My first thought was, regardless of what had happened throughout the first three-and-a-half quarters, seeing how the Jazz fared in a tight game was going to be informative, no matter the result.

However, on the Jazz’s next two defensive possessions there were miscommunications that led to Norman Powell having a wide open lane to the basket and then Leonard getting loose for an easy 3. Those two possessions didn’t necessarily inspire confidence that the Jazz were ready to close this one out.

But, I didn’t anticipate Kelly Olynyk hitting two wild 3-pointers and Clarkson becoming a defensive stopper on Leonard.

To be fair to the other players on the court, the Clippers were not an easy out for the Jazz, and Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn also deserve a lot of credit for their play down the stretch.

But Clarkson was a revelation.

“It’s proof that all players are capable of growth,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “I think there’s times where we just assume that once people get to a certain age, they just are what they are.

But Jordan’s made a real commitment to broaden his game…He leaves tonight with six assists and having a defensive impact on the game. And I think 12 months ago, that may not have been something that we would have predicted for Jordan.”

This is how it started:

And this is how it ended:

“He hit me with a bunch of moves,” Clarkson said. “Shot fakes and spins. I’m just happy I stayed down and didn’t bite for any of the fakes and he ended up losing the ball and you know, missing the shot. Game over.”

On multiple possessions in the final minutes of a close game that could have serious implications once we get to April (I know it’s game 2 of 82…that doesn’t mean it’s not true) Clarkson pivoted, stayed low, reacted with his hands without fouling, and didn’t fall for any pump-fakes, forcing Leonard into bad positions, tight spaces and tough shots.

“He’s made a commitment this season, and in training camp we had some conversations about his physicality defensively,” Hardy said.

“I think the last (four) minutes of that game is all you need to see. Those guys are hard to guard and I would have jumped at at least two of those pump fakes on that last play with Kawhi after all those pivots. But Jordan’s discipline was unbelievable.”

Hardy’s point about Clarkson continuing to grow is one that should not be overlooked. We have a lot of evidence to support the assertion that Clarkson is able to do just about anything that could be asked of him.

When he came to the Jazz he was asked to change his offensive game and eliminate the mid-range shots. Done.

When Hardy became the head coach he asked Clarkson to become more of a distributor and a vocal leader. Done and done.

Now, Hardy has asked Clarkson to put in more effort on the defensive end and expand his game further. We really don’t have a reason to believe that Clarkson won’t be able to live up to those expectations.

Clarkson said that it’s mostly about effort, but that he’s also been working with assistant coach Lamar Skeeter watching a lot of film. If there are things that don’t come naturally to Clarkson, he said he just tries to mimic what he sees the great defenders doing.

Well, if it’s good enough to stop Kawhi Leonard, he must be doing something right.