Forget About J.R. Smith, Jordan Clarkson is Having the Worst Run of Basketball I've Ever Seen

JR Smith's brain fart - which I'm planning to call "The Dribble-out" - is deservedly getting a ton of airtime, but he's not the only guard who has made colossal mistakes. Jordan Clarkson is having a nightmarish playoff run. Let's see how nightmarish.

The mid-season trades that sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade packing in exchange for Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., and George Hill have been written about at length.

While the trades seemed like a backs-against-the-wall kind of move (things were bleak), there were reasons for optimism: Nance is an incredible energy guy who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Hood is a streaky shooter who is sometimes capable of carrying an offense for bursts. Clarkson is a JR Smith type who is super athletic and never shy about shooting, even if sometimes he ought to be. And George Hill would slot in as the starting point guard. Not to mention, these trades were a major addition-by-subtraction situation, as Isaiah Thomas was a horrifying fit.

Two of the four guys have turned out OK. George Hill has had some big moments in the playoffs, and while Larry Nance has committed some boneheaded fouls, he's also still finding himself in the right place at the right time. Hood has disappeared entirely, which, OK, fine. But Jordan Clarkson...oh boy, Jordan Clarkson.

The Good

Jordan Clarkson is in his first NBA Finals. He had never been in the playoffs at all before. That's probably pretty cool for him, right? In game four against Indiana, he went 5-9 from the field (2-3 on three-pointers) and scored 12 points in a four-point win.

That's about it for the good.

The Bad

Everything else? Clarkson has been atrocious, except atrocious doesn't quite do it justice.

The No-one-should-have-to-watch-this-because-it's-so-bad Ugly

That's better.

Shooting: We have to start with his shooting because Jordan Clarkson is supposed to be a guy who provides a spark off the bench - a Nate Robinson type who can penetrate and/or shoot at a moment's notice.

In the playoffs, he has done neither. Clarkson has played 277 minutes in these playoffs (about 15.5 per game) and has shot a paltry 30.3% from the field. I pulled that 5-9 performance above because that was the only time in Clarkson's 18 playoff appearances that he has shot better than 50% from the floor. Equally as impressive, that was also the only time he has shot better than 40% from the floor.

Game four vs. the Pacers also signifies the only time this postseason that Jordan Clarkson has made more than half of his three-pointers in a game. He has shot a staggering 23.9% (11-46 overall) on three-pointers in the playoffs. According to, when there is no defender within four feet, Clarkson has made just nine of 36 attempts from beyond the arc. One more time: he's 9-36 shooting open three-pointers in the playoffs.

Furthermore, he's creating a lot of these shots on his own. Clarkson has attempted 22 pull-up three-pointers and 49 pull-up jumpers overall. He has made 13 of them. Since the start of the Boston series, it has been worse; he's 4-17.

But there's more to basketball than shooting, right? Clarkson is (theoretically) a point guard, or something like it. He's supposed to come off the bench and get the offense going. If you can't make your shots, maybe you should try passing, right?

Passing: ...



Still waiting for him to make a pass.

How egregious has Clarkson's ball-hoggery been? Since the start of the Boston series, Jordan Clarkson has played in seven games for a total of 94 minutes. He has zero assists. Zero assists. Zero. Assists. Z.E.R.O. A.S.S.I.S.T.S

But wait! Sometimes guys miss shots when you set them up, right? Yes! Of course that's true! Unless you're talking about Jordan Clarkson. In those 94 minutes, Clarkson has produced two (2!) potential assists and only one (1!!) in the past six games.

To put that into perspective, Ante Zizic has two potential assists in his ten minutes of action since the start of the ECF. Rodney Hood has five in his 33 minutes. Tristan Thompson has 11 in his 215 minutes, which is over twice the rate that Clarkson is tallying potential assists.

As far as overall passes go, Clarkson is not the lowest when it comes to passes made per minute, but the guys who pass the ball less often are Kyle Korver and JR Smith, whose jobs are to catch and shoot, not create shots (Korver and Smith both have more assists and more potential assists than Clarkson).

What does Synergy say? Bad things. It says bad things about Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson is in the 6th percentile of all playoff players in points per possession (PPP) on offense. Ten players out of 169 who've logged minutes in the postseason have been less efficient than Clarkson. But it gets worse.

Clarkson is in the 30th percentile as a pick and roll ball handler (his most common usage), 27th percentile in spot-ups, 17th percentile on isolations, and he is the worst player in the playoffs at scoring in transition or off of hand-offs. He is not good - or even near average - at any play-type. 85 players have had at least ten possessions in transition during these NBA playoffs; none of them have been less efficient at scoring than Jordan Clarkson. He has scored seven points in transition (this seems like a good time to point out that transition scoring is typically much more efficient than half-court scoring). As for dribble hand-offs, only 23 players have had ten or more of these during the playoffs, but Clarkson ranks 23rd in scoring efficiency on them.

The only ever-so-slight silver lining to all of this is that Clarkson has been relatively OK on defense in the playoffs. Synergy has him rated very well, actually, although Synergy has a blind-spot for blown assignments and, well, Clarkson has had a few of those.

What Now?

Oof. I don't really know. I'd like to think that Clarkson has nowhere to go but up, but he's been consistently horrendous over the past six weeks, so that may just be untrue. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, what choice do they have? Rodney Hood hasn't shown anything in the playoffs to suggest that he deserves these minutes, but it might come down to that.

In either case, it's bleak out there.

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