Today in best case/worst game: discussing one of the more enigmatic players on the Cavs.
Chris Manning (@cwmwrites): While Clarkson is with the Cavs, a best case scenario for him involves not playing alongside Darius Garland and Collin Sexton all too much. Remember: Clarkson and Sexton were a widely-used, bad duo last year. At the same time, the ideal Clarkson season involves him being good enough for a playoff team that feels it needs some scoring to give up something of value for him, a la the Cavs circa 2018. How those two things match-up is beyond me and for people smarter than me and employed by the team to figure out.
Justin Rowan (@cavsanada): I’m going to disagree with Chris to some extent. When Collin Sexton and Darius Garland are together, they’re going to need to learn how to take turns sharing play making responsibilities and learning how to coexist. When they are staggered and playing alongside Clarkson, it’ll give each of them a chance to try playing more of a point guard role with Clarkson as a true shooting guard. Sexton was better with Clarkson on than off last year and while he’s still here, ideally you want him being the guy that plays well alongside the two young guards and allows for staggering.
Hopefully he attracts a suitor while in that role and helps groom the way for Kevin Porter Jr. to step into that role after his likely departure.
David Zavac (@DavidZavac): The best case scenario involves the Cavs not giving him a contract extension. He’s a nice player, by all accounts a good teammate and hard worker, but his skills are duplicative with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland on board. I don’t need players who rack up assists, but at some point you need guards with good passing vision. If Clarkson can score at a good volume on decent usage without stepping on the young guys’ toes too much, it’s a good year. It would be interesting if he took it upon himself to become a good defender because he has the size and athleticism to do it.
CM: Clarkson, who seems somewhat at odds with what John Beilein likes to do, freelances too much on offense in a contract year and remains a huge negative on defense. If that happens, it a) hurt the development of Sexton and Garland, who should be the priority and b) drives down his trade value. That means the Cavs either have to trade him for something of value at the deadline and it maybe results in an uncomfortable reality where it’s better for him to get benched, but the potential locker room implications of benching him make it hard to do. Unlike last year, this year has more on the line and Clarkson being a hindrance to growth will be harder to live with.
Any scenario that results in Clarkson getting an extension from the Cavs also makes zero sense.
JR: I guess the worst case scenario would be for him to clash with the young guards. What Clarkson can bring off the bench can be attractive to a team, so long as his personality is managed and he isn’t too disruptive to the flow of the team. He managed to balance scoring and giving up the ball fairly well and the team was better with him on the floor than off. For him to go away from that and play outside of the offense would likely hurt his value both for the Cavs and on the trade market.
DZ: He plays over 25 minutes a game as John Beilein relies on his more developed game to keep the Cavs competitive over the course of a long, painful season. Clarkson is probably a better player than what we can expect Garland and Sexton to be in terms of winning and losing games. Hopefully this will be the last year that’s the case, but until it changes you’re relying on the coach to prioritize the future over the now. If Clarkson’s getting crunchtime minutes over the young guards, that’s a problem.