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Should the Knicks trade for Jordan Clarkson?

I’m all for it... under a few conditions.

Toronto Raptors v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Looking to bolster their bench unit and add more scoring, the Utah Jazz may have the player the Knicks are looking for.

Jordan Clarkson is not a prototypical ‘Thibs’ guy, but he could bring some needed scoring and playmaking.

Clarkson has come a long way in terms of his passing. He’s been better known for his ability to score in bunches. After Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell departed from Utah before the 2022–23 season, Clarkson stepped up his game.

Last season, he averaged a career-high 4.4 assists while also scoring a career-high 20.8 points per game. This season, the Utah guard is averaging a career-high 5.2 assists, tops on the Jazz. That put him just behind Jalen Brunson, who is dishing out 6.4 helpers per game on the Knicks.

The Knicks currently rank 22nd in bench points per game. The 31-year-old Clarkson is playing 30 minutes per game and averaging 18.0 points this season. He can certainly be useful and take some ball-handling pressure off of Jalen Brunson. When Brunson comes out of games, we have seen the offense stagnate. Julius Randle is averaging 4.8 assists, but having another guard to facilitate would be huge.

As much as I do love Donte DiVincenzo, Miles McBride, and Quentin Grimes, Clarkson just possesses a higher skill set at the current moment.

Efficiency and shot attempts

The knock against a player like Jordan Clarkson is that he can struggle with efficiency. This season, he has 41.9/30.6/88.1 shooting splits. I’d have to imagine his field goal attempts would go down from 15.2 if he joined the Knicks. He’d likely be in the 11.2 range that former Knick Immanuel Quickley averaged before being dealt to Toronto.

Catch-and-shoot

One area of improvement I’d want to see in Clarkson is his ability to catch and shoot. He’s only hitting 36.2 percent of his catch-and-shoot shots this season. If he is on the floor with Brunson, Randle, and OG, there will be open shots for him. Catch-and-shoot situations are something Donte DiVincenzo has taken advantage of this season. The Knicks guard is shooting 43.1 percent from three on 5.4 catch-and-shoot attempts per game.

It may not be his forte, but Clarkson showing a willingness to adapt and give up the ball could go a long way for how teams view him going forward.

Know your role

The Knicks can benefit from his scoring, but adding another inefficient player who takes a lot of shots wouldn’t be helpful. Inefficiencies on a lot of shot attempts were part of the reason the Knicks traded RJ Barrett for OG Anunoby.

If Clarkson can come to New York with the mentality of averaging 14.0 points and 5.0 assists on efficient shooting, the Knicks should find a way to get a deal done. If the Jazz guard has the mentality of leading the team, we may have our differences. He would be an extension of a team built by Tom Thibodeau, Jalen Brunson, and Julius Randle. Not his own entity.

Defense

Jordan Clarkson doesn’t have the best defensive stats, but I wanted to point towards the 2020–21 and 2021–22 seasons.

In 2020–21, the Jazz finished with a 52-20 record. Clarkson had +2.5 defensive win shares and -0.4 defensive box plus/minus. The following season saw him finish +2.0 in defensive win shares and -1.2 in defensive box plus/minus.

Jalen Brunson had a -0.5 defensive box plus/minus last season. If Clarkson can get that number down to around -0.5, it should be more than serviceable. Clarkson's peak defensive win shares of +2.5 happened only three seasons ago. He still has plenty left in the tank.

Outlook

The Knicks should seriously inquire about Clarkson’s services. He’s the big-game kind of player that I believe would thrive in New York. The 46th pick in the 2014 draft has always played with an edge and has always had the exciting ability to fill up a score sheet. Now, as a more polished player, Clarkson has refined his tools to incorporate being a playmaker. A combo guard who could help the Knicks gear up for a deep run come playoff time.

The 2020–21 Sixth Man of the Year winner would look good in the Big Apple.

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