Jordan Clarkson compares Sixth Man role to creating art
In an interview with Cavs.com‘s Joe Gabriele, Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Jordan Clarkson discussed his role with the Cleveland Cavaliers and what the team expects from him when he steps out onto the court. Clarkson, a scoring-minded guard who has become the team’s Sixth Man, compares his role on the Cavaliers to an artist trying to bring a blank canvas to life.
It’s, in Clarkson’s opinion, a creative process and an experience that he embraces.
Is there something kind of liberating (and just plain fun) about checking into the game knowing your job is to score?
Clarkson: Yeah, it is. It’s just me going out there and just kind of … creating.
Coach told me that they need me to score and that’s what I’m doing. I feel like I get some slack because I get no assists, but that’s kind of not my job. They’re telling me we have to put points on the board.
So I’m just playing my role and doing that.
It is fun, though.
Like I said, it’s about creating — like an artist having a free canvas, going out there, creating shots, making them. I like going in there, quieting crowds or sparking energy for the team.
Clarkson has been a Sixth Man since his third season in the league. Drafted out of the University of Missouri in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft, the speedy, 6-foot-5 guard has far outplayed his draft position.
Out of the 45 players picked ahead of him, only two have played more total minutes (Andrew Wiggins and Elfrid Payton) and just five have higher scoring averages (Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Nikola Jokic and Zach Lavine).
He’s not a perfect player but he hasn’t been given enough credit for the ways that he’s managed to excel in the NBA.
In his first two NBA seasons, Clarkson started 117 out of 138 possible games and was a full-time starter in his second season, averaging 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 32.3 minutes per game for the 17-65 Los Angeles Lakers. With the arrival of head coach Luke Walton and a highly-touted rookie in Brandon Ingram the following season, Clarkson was eventually moved to the bench to be their Sixth Man.
Since then, he’s embraced the role and the label that comes with it. T0 many, Clarkson is a scorer, period.
Many lament his court vision or lack of ball-movement but anybody will tell you, there’s a clear difference between players in the starting lineup and a player designated to be a Sixth Man. A player who is a Sixth Man is expected to come into the game and light up the scoreboard for however many minutes he’s in the game.
He can play too hurried. He may over-dribble. He’s prone to taking tough shots. He might play too selfishly.
However, on a team that lacks players that can create shots for themselves, he’s going to be asked to score before anything else.
Clarkson is currently averaging 15.2 points per game for the Cavaliers.