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Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson fulfills goal of becoming NBA Sixth Man of the Year

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

TRUE to his word, Filipino-American National Basketball Association (NBA) guard Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz went on to become a Sixth Man of the Year awardee.

The feat was announced on Tuesday (Manila time) by the league, making Mr. Clarkson, 28, the first Jazz player to win the award, given to the individual who excelled coming off the bench.

Mr. Clarkson received 65 first-place votes and 407 total points in winning the award, which saw him besting teammate Joe Ingles (34 first-place votes and 272 total points) and New York Knicks’ Derrick Rose (one first-place votes/77 total points).

Others considered for the award were Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Dallas), and Montrezl Harrell (LA Lakers).

Winning the Sixth Man of the Year was a fulfilment of one of the goals Mr. Clarkson set for himself after re-signing with Utah in the offseason for $52 million for four years.

“One goal and achievement that I want to have under my belt is winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. I already feel I’m in the conversation for it a lot because I’ve been traded multiple places now, but just having that opportunity to be out there playing and just be with this organization — having the opportunity is going to be great for me,” Mr. Clarkson shared to Filipino sports journalists back in January in a media conference call.

Mr. Clarkson, who split time in Tulsa and Missouri in college, was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2014. He was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018 before landing to Utah a year later.

In the 2020-2021 NBA Regular Season, the 2018 Asian Games campaigner for the Philippines was solid, producing numbers of 18.4 points (career-high), four rebounds and 2.5 assists in 26.7 minutes in 68 games (one start).

His scoring average of 18.3 points as a reserve was the highest in the NBA. Mr. Clarkson made a career-high 208 three-pointers overall (seventh in the NBA among all players) and a league-high 203 as a reserve. The 203 three-pointers were the fourth-highest single-season total off the bench in NBA history. He also ranked ninth in the NBA in free throw percentage this season (89.6).

His productive effort from the bench helped the Jazz in securing the best record in the NBA this season (52-20). They are currently battling the Memphis Grizzlies in the opening round of the playoffs.

In the media conference early this year, Mr. Clarkson said that more than continuing to improve as a player, he is also looking to repay the Jazz for the confidence the organization has given him.

“I’m gonna go out there and perform. I’m just gonna go out there and help the team win.”

The balloting for the NBA individual awards is tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP.

Meanwhile, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) congratulated Mr. Clarkson for winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award, highlighting the hard work the player put in while also alluding to the Jazz player’s time with Gilas Pilipinas in the 2018 Asiad.

“In his short and sweet stint with Gilas Pilipinas, Jordan Clarkson showed us not only his world-class talent, but also gave us a glimpse of the hard work and dedication necessary to get to that level,” SBP President Al Panlilio said in a statement. “Once Gilas, always Gilas.”

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