The postseason hasn’t been kind to Jordan Clarkson.
Pairing up with LeBron James, arguably the best player in the planet, at the trade deadline last February, the Filipino-American guard was never expected to take over as the number one scoring option for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, he was projected to at least take some scoring load off the King — something that an aging Dwayne Wade and often-injured Derrick Rose and Isaiah Thomas couldn’t provide early in the regular season.
Things weren’t always so bad for Clarkson in “The Land” highlighted by a 17-point debut against the Boston Celtics and a string of 20+ point performances in the ensuing games.
But come playoff time, the highly touted mid-season acquisition seemed to have lost his edge, hounded by pundits for his unwillingness to move the ball and questionable shot selection.
It may just very well be a case of first time playoff jitters, but Clarkson has been horrendous in the past 19 games, averaging subpar averages of just 4.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 15 minutes per contest.
His struggles on offense doesn’t seem to faze him at all, as Clarkson has continued to fire away at a dismal rate, knocking down only 37 of 123 field goals and only draining 11 out of 46 attempted three pointers.
George Hill and J.R. Smith might have taken the blunt of criticism for their blunders in Game 1, but Clarkson has slowly marked himself as a major liability and the target of online mockery on Twitter.
Here at FOX Sports Philippines, we list down three simple ways JC could turn things around for the Cavaliers.
Pass the rock
A quick view of Clarkson’s playoff Box Score stats would yield shocking results, as he has only made 13 total assists in 19 games, with 11 of those coming from the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors series. He only notched a single assist in the entire Boston Celtics series that went seven games and managed to record one dime during garbage time of Game 2 of the Finals.
Clarkson is by no means supposed to be a facilitator on offense, mustering only 2.95 assists throughout his almost five-year tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers. But with his recent struggles of putting the ball in the basket, one would figure that he would distribute the rock more often and find his teammates on more possessions.
Using his quick first step and above-average athleticism, Clarkson is capable of driving past defenders and drawing defenses to create more open opportunities for Cleveland’s plethora of shooters. Currently, James is the only one assuming the mantle for the Cavs, but Clarkson could very well provide the same responsibility in short stretches.
Shoot less three pointers
Clarkson has always been a slashing guard who developed a deadly mid-range jump shot over time. He has also extended his range from the great beyond, enjoying the best three-point field goal percentage in his career this season at a .407 success rate.
The 25-year-old spark plug has since shot bricks in the playoffs, highlighted by going 0-3 in Game 1 of The Finals. He avoided the long ball altogether in Game 2 taking zero attempts from the arc, but still finished with only 2 points in a measly 1-4 shooting.
I’m not saying he should completely turn down wide open three pointers and in rhythm shots, but JC has to strive better on picking his spots. Clarkson is one of those streaky shooters and with enough confidence he is still a capable marksman from downtown.
But for now, he should stick to his strengths that earned him an NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2014.
Make presence felt on defensive end
Best known as an offensive minded combo guard, Clarkson probably won’t receive NBA All Defensive nods anytime soon. Even the best scorers have an off night every now and then, but the great ones have managed to keep themselves in the game by excelling at the other end of the floor.
Defense, after all, is all about effort and no matter how unearthly of a shot maker Steph Curry or Klay Thompson is, Clarkson could once again get his groove back by focusing on stopping his counterparts rather than only looking to score.
He will, however, have his work cut out for him, but with his speed and length at the guard position, I’d say Jordan would be very much up for the task.