Jordan Clarkson has won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award, as was announced on TNT's pre-game show ahead of Monday's contest between the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat. Clarkson was a finalist alongside teammate Joe Ingles and New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose, and TNT used his connection to Ingles to surprise Clarkson with the award.
The two of them were being interviewed about the award on the TNT pre-game show, with host Ernie Johnson quizzing them about its history. Eventually, he asked them how many Jazz players had ever won it, and Clarkson responded zero. Ingles, however, responded with one, and then surprised Clarkson by handing him the trophy.
Clarkson averaged a career-high 18.4 points per game in his second season with the Jazz, shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 34.7 percent on 3-pointers in the process. Both he and Ingles were so effective off of the bench that they were finalists for the award together, a somewhat unusual occurrence considering, by definition, one of them has to be Utah's seventh man. Ingles was a candidate primarily for his 3-point shooting, as he made over 45 percent of his long-range attempts. He averaged more assists than Clarkson, 4.7 to 4.0, but didn't score at the same volume.
This is the first Sixth Man of the Year award for Clarkson, who had never finished higher than seventh in previous votes. Had Rose won, he would have become the third player ever to win both MVP and Sixth Man of the Year, joining Bill Walton and James Harden. Instead, the award went to the player on the NBA's best regular-season team. The Jazz are also expected to have the Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert, and their coach, Quin Snyder, is a finalist for Coach of the Year.