First, Jordan Clarkson spent the beginning of his NBA career playing with and learning from Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Since then, the Utah Jazz guard has become intent on pursuing a path that sounds both familiar and foreign to his two former star teammates.
Just like when both Bryant and James won five NBA titles, Clarkson’s main source of motivation points toward collecting championship hardware. Unlike when Bryant and James both won Finals and regular-season MVP awards, Clarkson’s other source of motivation points toward becoming the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
“If we’re winning games and we’re doing that, I’ll be rewarded for that,” Clarkson told USA TODAY Sports. “I feel like this is that time and that moment where I’ve impacted the game.”
Still, Clarkson stressed that “my main goal is trying to win games and a championship.” That could happen in three months. The Jazz (42-15) enter Monday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers (35-22) with the NBA’s best record because they have three All-Stars in one of the NBA’s most dynamic point guards (Donovan Mitchell), one of the league’s best rim protectors (Rudy Gobert) and one of the league’s most underrated players (Mike Conley). The Jazz also has a seven-year head coach that has fostered both continuity and innovation (Quin Snyder).