SAN ANTONIO, TX - OCTOBER 4: Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz looks on before the game against the San Antonio Spurs during a pre-season game on October 4, 2021 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)

Physical Practices Setting the Stage for Regular Season

Near the end of his press conference Saturday afternoon, Jordan Clarkson lifted his shirt. The heavily tattooed shooting guard wasn’t showing off his newest ink—but rather a very long scratch down his right side.

“Even my tattoos can’t cover that,” Clarkson said with a laugh.

But rather than be mad about the scratch, Clarkson showed it off as a badge of honor. It was a representation of what practices have been like recently—a representation of what sort of team the Jazz want to be: tough and physical.

“Us going hard today in practice, we needed to get up and down. … Get a little flow going, so it was a good day for us,” Clarkson said. 

Clarkson’s scratch appears to be one of the minor scrapes the players have acquired throughout the past couple days. There have been bloody lips, lacerations, and other minor injuries resulting from physicality, something he believes will only benefit the team moving forward.

“Right now, the competition level is super high,” Clarkson said. “We ain’t got Grade-A refs, so we’re in there beating each other up. … People are coming out with bloody lips, scratches, and stuff. It’s going to get us ready and physical for when that time is going to come when we need to play like that.”

When asked if maybe the physicality needed to be toned down a bit so no one risks injury before the season starts, head coach Quin Snyder scoffed at the idea. 

“I think with this group, and I’ve mentioned this before, as you’re finding your identity, that by definition is a little more exploratory,” he said of the practices. “I think for us right now, it’s important for us to really drill down on the things we are doing. … That can usually result in competitive practices.”

There’s a reason behind the competitive practices, especially for such a veteran-laden team. With the preseason primarily serving as an evaluation for the younger players and newcomers on the roster, many veterans haven’t been as active during those games. 

Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles—after a busy summer in which they won Olympic medals—have yet to take the court. Bojan Bogdanovic has been nursing a sore right shoulder and hasn’t played yet, while Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley sat out the last game. Clarkson and Royce O’Neale are the only primary contributors from last season who’ve participated in both games, albeit in very short stints.

Because of their inactivity during preseason games, it’s become essential that practices mimic the regular season. It’ll allow the players to be full-go when Oklahoma City comes to town on Oct. 20. 

“Practice has been competitive, it puts you in a good mindset that you want to have, and I think they’ve been purposeful,” Snyder said. “We want to be really intentional about how we’re spending our time.”

Utah takes on the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday at Vivint Arena, with tipoff set for 7 p.m. MST. The Jazz will then have a day off before hosting the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, their final tune-up before the regular season starts.

To purchase tickets for the season-opener against the Thunder on Oct. 20, click HERE.

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