MANILA, Philippines—What was deemed a rebuilding season for the Utah Jazz turned out to be a contending year still midway through the NBA season.
The Jazz, despite parting trading away their cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in the offseason, are currently eighth in the Western Conference with a 22-23 record.
They also parted ways with their longtime coach Quin Snyder and tapped Will Hardy to call the shots.
Hardy, according to Clarkson, is one of the reasons why the Jazz are in the thick of the fight for a playoff spot.
“I had a great coach in Quinn but Will’s done a tremendous job in making everybody comfortable and putting everybody in their strengths and willing this team to go out there compete and win,” Clarkson told Filipino reporters on Friday.
The 30-year-old Clarkson is averaging career-bests 20.7 points and 4.5 assists along with 3.9 rebounds per game.
Aside from Clarkson, Lauri Markkanen, who was part of the deal that sent Mitchell to Cleveland, is also playing his best basketball averaging 24.5 points on 52 percent shooting from the field and 8.5 rebounds per outing.
The two are making a case for an All-Star selection.
Clarkson also credited the players’ success to Hardy.
“He’s been great. He’s one of the smartest coaches that I’ve seen in this league in terms of Xs and Os. [Also] He puts everybody in the place to be successful,” the Fil-American guard said.
“Will’s done a great job communicating with us, talking with us and being him not as much as older. It’s pretty good, too. We can relate about other things I’m going through,” he added.
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