Late last Wednesday night, reports surfaced that the Jazz traded the rugged Patrick Beverley to the Lakers for the formerly untouchable Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson.
While it may be disappointing to some that the Sixers missed out on the grit king in Beverley, this move — along with the blockbuster trades of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell — shows the Jazz are very open for business.
And if former Sixth Man of the year Jordan Clarkson becomes available, the Sixers should absolutely pounce — though it could be a bit tricky.
Utah still has coveted veteran trade asserts, including Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley Jr. They'll approach an Oklahoma City-esque haul of draft assets once they're done dealing. Jazz consider Markkanen, Sexton and Agbaji keepers for their rebuilding roster.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 1, 2022
Shot creation is one the most important skills in the modern NBA. For too long, the Sixers sorely lacked personnel that possessed the ability to create their own shot from the perimeter. The addition of James Harden certainly helps. As does the emergence of Tyrese Maxey. But this roster could certainly use more.
Isolation scoring is what the man affectionately known as “Flame Thrower” does. Clarkson scored 0.97 points per possession in isolation (71st percentile) last season. Just 22.1 percent of Clarkson’s two-point field goals were assisted last season, which is actually up from 16.5 during his 6MOTY season.
Clarkson is a walking bucket, as the kids say. Since 2018-19, he’s averaged 30.9 points per 100 possessions. That kind of microwave scoring is perfectly suited for a sixth-man role. He’s also audacious, putting up 12.8 threes per 100 possessions over that span — hence the nickname. He has the ability to score on all three levels and do so at a high level on any given night.
If you only watched Clarkson against the Sixers in 2020-21, you’d think he’s Allen Iverson.
Clarkson has also proven to be a strong playoff performer. With the Jazz, he averaged 17.6 points per game in 24 postseason contests with 45.4/35.3/94.4 shooting splits. To know he can still be a factor in a playoff rotation feels massive for a Sixers team that’s repeatedly had depth issues in the postseason.
It’s not like Clarkson is solely an iso scorer either. In Utah, he primarily played on-ball coming off the bench, but he’s shown ability here and there to play off-ball and fly around screens. It’s intriguing to imagine Clarkson pairing with Joel Embiid, running a two-man game similar to JJ Redick and Seth Curry. The DHO game could be especially dangerous with Clarkson, who is much more of a threat off the bounce.
Clarkson is far from a perfect player. He can struggle with efficiency, as his career 43.9 field-goal percentage would suggest. He isn’t the greatest playmaker for others, averaging just 4.6 assists per 100 possessions for his career. He’s also not going to make any All-Defensive Teams any time soon.
But with the Sixers’ additions of P.J. Tucker, Danuel House and De’Anthony Melton — not to mention the presence of Embiid — they should have plenty of defensive versatility and physicality to make up for Clarkson’s presence.
The actual deal is not cut and dry. In order to make the salaries match and stay below the tax apron, the Sixers would have to move Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and one more lower-end salary to make it work. If they threw in former first-rounder Jaden Springer, who is still only 19 years old, they might be able to entice the Jazz. Thybulle and Springer are both wings that can defend at a high level but are limited offensively. They’re lottery tickets, much like the player they received for Beverley in Horton-Tucker. Another sticking point is that Utah is already at 17 players. Would they even be interested in a 3-for-1 deal?
The goals for Daryl Morey and company this offseason were to add physical and mental toughness and improve the team’s defense that lagged with Ben Simmons gone. With those goals accomplished via the aforementioned additions, adding a dynamic scorer in Clarkson feels like a move that could add more playoff-worthy depth and further balance the roster.