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Q&A: Jordan Clarkson on Jazz's strong start, new-look team

Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson is embracing his expanded role this season and proving his impact as a starter.

    Jordan Clarkson is averaging 17.4 points with Utah this season.

LOS ANGELES – After the organization traded its two franchise pillars (Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert) last summer, Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson conceded uncertainty on if he would also be switching uniforms.

Clarkson offered more conviction on how he hopes his future plays out in the 2022-23 season.

“I like it here in Utah,” Clarkson told “I want to be here.”

In Utah’s 130-116 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Clarkson had 20 points on 9-for-19 shooting along with seven rebounds and three assists. The veteran guard is averaging 17.4 points and a career-high 5.6 assists in seven games this season.

Clarkson expressed satisfaction over the Jazz’s strong start (7-3), his expanded starting role and first-year coach Will Hardy. Clarkson spoke to about those topics and more.

Editor’s note: The following 1-on-1 conversation has been condensed and edited.

What explains the strong start after the major offseason moves?

We have a mix of young guys and vets. We have Mike [Conley], me and other guys that have been around, especially with this organization. We have impacted things and played the way Jazz basketball is played – move the ball, play hard and defend. It’s all been working out. We’re just competing.

How have you seen the deals play out for all parties?

Everything is great. Everybody is happy. Donovan is happy in Cleveland. We’re good overall. Rudy is happy in Minnesota. There’s no comparison of teams.

I’ve talked to Donovan a lot about it and communicated with him last season about making plays. I just feel like I was on the other end where I was the guy that would shoot the shots when he made plays. Now, I’m in a position to make plays for my teammates.

— Jordan Clarkson on adjusting to his new role

What was your initial reaction when those deals happened?

It’s a business and part of the game. Somebody gets traded. Somebody gets moved. Organizations go different ways a lot of times. Most of us vets have been through that.

How have you dealt with the trade rumors?

I don’t really care about that stuff. I just come out and hoop. If I have another jersey on tomorrow, I’ll still try to impact the game and try to win.

Did you always have that mindset earlier in your career?

I think so. It’s cool. I stay even keel and chill. After my first trade [from the Lakers to Cleveland], I was just like, ‘I’m working, and this is my job. You can get moved at any time and on any day.’ I don’t harp on it. I’m not the one who is like, ‘Oh I’m coming back for a revenge game.’ I value my time and experience, and then I move somewhere else.

Getting into that work, you’ve been creating more for your teammates and still scoring. What has gone into that?

Just making plays. We’re in a situation where we have a lot of guys that can score the ball. We spread the floor. We play fast. We shoot 3s. We have a fun style of play. I have more opportunities to have the ball in my hands to make plays.

What has that done for your game?

It’s slowed the game down. I had been hired as a gunner where I come in, get my clips up and impact the game with scoring. Now I’m trying to find ways to get teammates shots. The game is slower when you get those opportunities. It’s a change of role, honestly. I think I’ve always been able to make plays and see things.

I’ve talked to Donovan a lot about it and communicated with him last season about making plays. I just feel like I was on the other end where I was the guy that would shoot the shots when he made plays. Now, I’m in a position to make plays for my teammates.

What’s it like working with coach Hardy in his first season? 

He’s dope. He’s young, energetic and free-flowing. We relate really well. He’s smart and chill. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s a players’ coach.

Coach Hardy said he had talked with you about possibly starting and adjusting your role as both a scorer and playmaker. What did you think of the change?

We didn’t know I’d start until preseason. But we also talked over the summer. He wanted to win. I wanted to win. That was the conversation. I told him, ‘I’m right with you.’ We’re still on it.

He added, “I never want to inhibit his aggressiveness because his aggressiveness is what draws the defense and allows his teammates to get open looks.” How do you view that?

He trusts me and knows that I will still make plays for everybody else. I’ll be aggressive, but I’ll still play within the offense with what we’re doing. I’m still setting the culture with Utah basketball – spreading the ball down, knocking down 3s, getting out in transition and getting stops. It’s a fun style of play.

What mentorship have you given to the younger guys this season?

We talk to the younger guys. It’s a good mix of vets and younger dudes. It’s been good. I’m talking more. Mike has come out of his shell a little bit more with talking, too.

It’s just about the style of basketball. Since we’ve been here for three years, we’re used to passing up good shots for great shots and making the next play and make the other man next to you better and playing off the pass. That’s been the biggest thing we’ve been talking about since training camp.

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Mark Medina is a senior writer/analyst for You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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