Utah Cut Ties With Exum and Acquires Clarkson
Finally, we have a trade. On Christmas Eve, the Utah Jazz sent Dante Exum and two future second-round picks to the Cleveland Cavaliers for guard Jordan Clarkson.
Drafted by the Jazz with the 5th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Australian has struggled with a raft of injuries throughout his time in Salt Lake City. Every time Exum has looked to put things together, his body has let him down, so far unable to fulfill the potential many envisaged of the athletic prospect from Melbourne.
This season, Exum has only played in 11 games for the Jazz, averaging 7.5 minutes.
In Cleveland, Exum gets a fresh start and time in a run-and-gun style that will suit his athletic talents, on both sides of the ball. Connecting with fellow Australian Matthew Dellevedova, Exum will hopefully get a good run at things if his body lets him.
For the Jazz, this was very much a win-now move, in an attempt to solidify their bench unit with some added scoring punch. With their bench scoring sitting at a lowly 29th in the NBA, recently waived Jeff Green, Emmanuel Mudiay and Georges Niang have struggled to get things flowing for the reserve unit.
While Donovan Mitchell continues to grow, and free agency acquisition Bogdan Bogdanovic has impressed, Utah’s offensive rating drops to 100.4 when Mitchell sits.
This is where Clarkson comes in. Playing as a ball-dominant scoring guard (59.7 touches per 36 minutes), Clarkson fills a role that Utah’s executive VP of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey agreed was a much needed one.
“We needed to add someone that could just go and get a shot,” Lindsey said. He also added this was not a spur of the moment signing, revealing that “he was a player that Quin (Snyder) asked me about this summer.”
Clarkson’s already made an impact in two games with the Jazz, serving as the exact spark plug needed to supplant Mitchell’s offensive production.
In almost 21 minutes against the Trail Blazers, Clarkson scored nine points on 4-12 shooting, all in the first half. Next, Clarkson helped the Jazz secure arguably their biggest win of the season, defeating the Clippers by 13 points.
In just under 25 minutes, Clarkson added 19 points off the bench on 7-13 shooting. Draining 13 points in 14 minutes during an important second quarter run, cutting the Clippers lead to a mere two points at half-time.
As Clarkson continues to be assimilated into the rotation and grows more familiar with coach Quin Snyder’s system, the former Cavalier will be able to showcase his variety of offensive skills. Comfortable with the ball in his hands with pull-up jumpers from mid-range, getting to the rim with floaters, Clarkson also adds flexibility as a catch-and-shoot option.
This season, Clarkson is averaging 41.9 percent on 3-point catch-and-shoot opportunities, which is a shot that players like Mitchell and Joe Ingles love to create for their teammates in Salt Lake City.
Despite losing out on a lottery pick that didn’t work out in Exum, the Jazz needed to make a win-now move for this season. Currently sitting at sixth in the Western Conference with a 20-12 record, and winning eight of their last ten games, the Jazz are set to rise up in the standings. Adding an offensive spark plug like Clarkson could go a long way in continuing that ascension.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA Advanced Stats.