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New Cavalier Breakdown: Jordan Clarkson

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Taking a look at Jordan Clarkson and whether a decrease in his usage can potentially result in increased efficiency in Cleveland.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the second consecutive season, Jordan Clarkson is averaging over 14 points per game coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers.

He now slides into a similar role with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he will likely be asked to provide a scoring punch off a strengthened bench at the trade deadline.

Offense

Clarkson has historically been a high-usage, low-efficiency player and this year is no different. Clarkson’s 53.2 TS% ranks well below the league-average of 55.6% and he was doing so on 27.5% usage off the Lakers’ bench.

Clarkson is another player who strongly prefers shooting off the dribble to shooting off the catch. He has attempted 4.3 pull-up jumpers per game as compared to 2.9 catch and shoot jumpers per game.

But he has not seen strong efficiency numbers to justify these attempts—only posting a 41.4 eFG% off the dribble.

Clarkson has better on catch and shoot 3s—making them at a 37% clip—but his shot profile has led to him shooting just 32.4% from 3 on the year.

If there is any hope with his jumper, it’s that Clarkson has shot 41% on wide open 3s in his career (72nd percentile) and he may get more of these looks in Cleveland. But, as you can see above, he jumps forward on his shot much more than the average NBA player, which sometimes allows for a better contest.

As a distributor, Clarkson’s 23.2 assist percentage ranks in the 72nd percentile of all combo guards. He is averaging over 6 assists per 100 possessions and has demonstrated some pick and roll craft as a secondary playmaker.

He has scored 0.98 points per possession in isolation—ranking 24th of 79 players with at least 50 such possessions. Clarkson is shooting 62% at the rim and takes 32% of his shots in the restricted area—both slightly above average at his position.

Ultimately, however, Clarkson just takes too many off the dribble mid-range jumpers and isn’t an efficient offensive player. Expect his usage rate to decline in Cleveland, but it will be difficult for him to overcome his shot profile and lack of proficiency from deep.

Defense

Clarkson is 6’4” with a 6’7” wingspan, but his length has really yet to translate to much of anything defensively.

He only has 30 blocks in his 4-year NBA career and his 1.3% steal rate ranks in the 34th percentile for combo guards. He has consistently grabbed right around 9% of available field goal rebounds in his career, which is below average for his position.

In the two seasons prior to this season, the Lakers were 4 points/100 possessions better defensively with him off the floor. This year, they are 1.7 points/100 possession better defensively with him on the floor, but opponents are shooting 2.3% better from 3 with him on.

Clarkson will certainly give Cleveland effort defensively, as he does here against Klay Thompson:

But there isn’t a ton there to get excited about from a tools perspective.

Overall

Watching film of both Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jordan Clarkson appears to be the cost of doing business to acquire Nance.

He will likely come off the bench and perhaps provide some offensive juice on occasion, but he’s a largely inefficient player on that end who lacks the 3-point shot necessary to be dangerous.

He doesn’t really provide much defensively in a high-level matchup with the best teams in the Eastern Conference or the NBA Finals. His role will likely be reduced in Cleveland and his playing time will merely be a question of whether the decrease in usage can result in increased efficiency.