The Utah Jazz found a different gear at the end of 2019. From Dec. 23 until the season’s sudden stoppage in March, the Utah Jazz had the best offense in the NBA.
That’s the date the Jazz added a new spark plug, trading for sixth man Jordan Clarkson. It was a fit that worked out perfectly for both the Jazz and Clarkson. So when free agency opened up last month, the Jazz and the shooting guard made quick work of a new multi-year deal.
“It means a lot to be here,” Clarkson said Wednesday. “Coming into a winning situation kind of brings the best out of everybody and pulls people together. I feel that. Everybody accepted me with open arms and told me to be who I am, go out there and do what you do, be who you are around the guys. That was really big for me. That’s why it translated so early for me when we played.”
Clarkson — who averaged 15.6 points on 46.2 percent shooting last season with the Jazz – said he felt an instant connection with Jazz coach Quin Snyder and his new teammates, making his decision to stay in Utah an easy one.
“It’s crazy how fast I connected with these guys and this group,” Clarkson said. “… The guys have been great. The relationship with Coach. Overall, just the fit. The city has been great to me as well. I’m just feeling comfortable, peace of mind.
“And everybody just has the same goal of winning and growing together. I feel like that’s where it all came for me. I wanted to continue to grow here, keep doing great things here in Utah with this team. I definitely didn’t want to leave these guys.”
Clarkson said those bonds will help the Jazz on the court as they begin a new season, one that promises to be filled with uncertainty.
“We’ve grown so tight, it makes a lot of things on the court easier,” he said. “Even in the heated moments when stuff is going bad, we’ve always got each other’s backs. When you have a group of guys that does that, it’s a good formula to win.”
And Clarkson sees that formula working for a long time to come.
“You look at the key players here, we’re all kind of still young in years,” he said. “It definitely gives us some time to accomplish what we want to accomplish. That’s to try to win a championship soon here. That really went into everything [regarding the length of my contract]. You see 3-4 years where we’re all here together.”
After falling to the Denver Nuggets in seven games in the playoffs in Orlando, Clarkson believes a Jazz team that has added big man Derrick Favors and will return a healthy Bojan Bogdanovic has a chance to compete now.
“We know we’re going to have to face adversity this year, just the stuff that’s going to happen throughout the year,” he said. “But with this team at full strength, I think we can really make some noise.”