Jordan Clarkson said his current status as the frontrunner for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year wouldn’t be possible if he hadn’t embraced the role as early as three years ago.
The Fil-American guard is having the finest season of his NBA career thanks in large part to being the super sub of the Utah Jazz, who owns the league’s best record entering the halfway point of the 72-game regular season.
Clarkson told Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes that being the Sixth Man was something he accepted in-between his time with the Los Angeles and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who acquired him in a midseason trade in 2018.
“I didn’t figure it out until maybe I got to Cleveland, maybe my third year in the league,” Clarkson told Haynes who hosts the Posted Up podcast.
“I started coming off the bench (in the) later half of my second year and as I started figuring out the game, watching more film, I’m always been an aggressive scorer and somebody that takes tough shots and stuff like that but I felt like that was my niche, you know, coming off the bench, creating a spark, scoring in quick bursts and able to affect the game like that.
“So it took a few years trying to figure out the type of player that I am and I think I found my niche when I did that,” he added.
When asked by Haynes about his transition from starter to sixth man, Clarkson said he was quick to accept the role, given that it may benefit his NBA career in the long run.
“Sitting down, I was kinda real to myself and I felt that it was best for me too. So finding that and accepting that, accepting who you are plays a big part of everything, you know, how long you’ll stay in the league, how do you impact the team, how your attitude is and everything,” he said.
“I felt that I have accepted it really well. I was a starter during my first few years in LA, and being moved to the bench, I think I took it well, I handled it well and kept continuing to work and try to find ways to stay on the floor and impact the game,” added Clarkson.
Clarkson is averaging 18.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 35 games as Utah’s top reserve, and the Jazz are glad to have him around especially with the way things are going.