Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson wins NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award

The news caught Jordan Clarkson by surprise.

TNT host Ernie Johnson asked Clarkson and Joe Ingles how many Utah Jazz players have won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award. Clarkson's answered zero. Ingles answered one.

Then Ingles handed the Sixth Man of the Year trophy to Clarkson, who received 65 first-place votes for a total of 407 points. Ingles received 34 first-place votes for a total of 272 points. It was the first time that teammates had shared the top two spots in voting for the award.

Clarkson told USA TODAY Sports last month that "“my main goal is trying to win games and a championship.”

Hence, Clarkson presumably remains more consumed with the top-seeded Jazz facing a 1-0 series deficit to the Memphis Grizzlies in their first-round series than being rewarded for leading the NBA in bench scoring (a career-high 18.4 points per game).

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, right, averaged 18.4 points per game this season. (Photo: Neville E. Guard, USA TODAY Sports)

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Still, Clarkson said the award served as a source of motivation.

“If the Sixth Man of the Year award comes and I don’t get it, I don’t need the validation because my teammates, coaching staff and a lot of my peers gave me that,” Clarkson said last month. “They’re telling me, ‘I respect what you do’ and all of that. So, I know that goes a long way as well. But it’s definitely something I want to get accomplished one of these years. Hopefully it’s this year.”

After the Los Angeles Lakers selected Clarkson at No. 46 in the 2014 NBA draft, he emerged as a dependable scorer both as a starter and reserve. Despite liking his growth through his first 3 1/2 seasons, the Lakers dealt Clarkson to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018 in a move largely centered on clearing cap space to pursue multiple marquee free agents, including LeBron James.

Shortly after the Golden State Warriors swept Cleveland in the 2018 NBA Finals, James signed with the Lakers. The Jazz acquired Clarkson shortly after the 2019 season.

After the Jazz squandered a 3-1 first-round series lead to the Denver Nuggets last year, Clarkson signed a four-year, $52 million extension. The Jazz have liked his consistent scoring  and improved outside shooting and defense.

Clarkson, 28, said he wants to emulate Manu Ginóbili, Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford,  who have combined to win seven of the past 13 Sixth Man of the Year awards while playing on playoff-contending teams. 

“I definitely look at those guys as guys that paved the way and made it cool for this role to be what it is,” Clarkson said. “I’m just trying to continue that legacy, and have that impact that a sixth man has for a team.”

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