How many Utah Jazz players have won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award?
Jordan Clarkson was asked that question on live television Monday night. His guess: zero.
His teammate, and fellow Sixth Man finalist, Joe Ingles knew the right answer.
As in, the one and only Jordan Clarkson.
It was a surprise that Clarkson will never forget as Ingles and the Jazz handed the star guard one of the trophies he has coveted all season long.
“It’s been a journey,” Clarkson said later. “I’m really excited. It came as a surprise to me.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 24, 2021
Clarkson, the league’s top bench scorer this season, beat out Ingles and Knicks guard Derrick Rose for the honor of being named the NBA’s top reserve. Clarkson garnered 65 first place votes. Ingles finished with 34 and Rose received one.
Clarkson led all NBA reserves in scoring with 18.3 points per game (career-high) off the bench, to go along with 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists, becoming the first player since Manu Ginobili in 2007-08 to average over 18 points, four boards and two assists as a reserve (min. 50 gp).
The guard has been the front runner for the award all season. Coming into the year, winning it was a stated goal.
“Definitely it was one of my goals going into this year, to go get that and play that role,” he said earlier this year.
Clarkson hit a league-best 203 three-point field goals off the bench, which was the most in the NBA and fourth most threes by a reserve in NBA history. His 3.0 threes made per game average was the third best three-point rate by a player coming off the bench all-time (min 50 gp).
The six-year pro posted 23 games with 20-or-more points, five games with 30-or-more points and two 40-plus point contests in 2020-21, the most by any player off the bench all season. He was the first player since Lou Williams during the 2018-19 season with multiple 40-point games as a reserve.
Clarkson was instrumental in Utah’s 134-123 win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 15, scoring 40 points in just 29 minutes, also knocking down a career-high-tying eight three-point field goals. It marked only the third time since 1983-84 that a player off the bench scored 40-or-more points in 29 minutes or less.
On May 10 at Golden State, he racked up 41 points in 35 minutes, tying the second most points all-time by a Jazz player off the bench.
Clarkson thanked teammates past and present as he accepted the trophy Monday night.
The guard cited Spurs legend Manu Ginobili. For inspiring him and specifically thanked Atlanta guard Lou Williams, who has won the award multiple times, for helping shape his basketball journey.
“Lou was big on me, on slowing down with life. Giving me so much knowledge that I wasn’t ready to accept as a young guy,” Clarkson said. “I really took it into account as I got older.”
Clarkson also gave a big shout to Ingles and his current teammates.
“This team is just amazing, how we bonded together,” Clarkson said. “I know it sounds cliché, but … You don’t get an opportunity like this but once or twice. This organization, this team definitely has a different feel.”