Drafted 35th overall in 2008 by Los Angeles, DeAndre Jordan has spent his years growing up in the Clippers organisation. From being the laughing stock of the league to title contenders, Jordan has experienced it all during this transformation journey. While much of the transformation is credited to Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, Jordan’s development into a rebounding, shot blocking monster has been just as instrumental as his All Star teammates.
But just how valuable is DeAndre Jordan? He averages only 10 points per game, and is shooting 41% from the free throw line. Jordan can often seem like he’s getting in the way of Paul or Griffin on offense, clogging the paint and making it hard for either to be as effective as they are capable of. Paul and Griffin are both masters at getting into the paint, possessing great passing instincts that allow them to find the open man. However, this becomes a lot harder when Jordan’s man can clog the paint with no fear of Jordan scoring, as his range extends no further than the paint. Jordan is a liability in late in games due to his porous free throw shooting; “Hack-a-Jordan” is commonly used by opposing teams to a great effect. Jordan has yet to develop any sort of offensive game as all his points come from putbacks and dunks. Jordan has no remnants of a post game or jump shot, resulting in teams not having to worry about Jordan when he has the ball outside of the paint.
But anyone who watches the Clippers knows that DeAndre Jordan is valuable, so what is it that makes Jordan such a valuable piece for the LA Clippers? For one, Jordan knows his role and excels at fulfilling it.
Jordan shooting 72% from the field this season is no fluke; he knows his limitations and plays within them. Jordan often lurks along the baseline looking for drop off passes, lobs or offensive rebound opportunities. Jordan averages just under 14 rebounds per game including an imposing 4.7 offensive rebounds per contest. Feasting on Paul’s and Griffin’s penetration which forces his man to rotate, Jordan exploits these opportunities for easy buckets like this.
Jordan may not necessarily be a “skilled” offensive player, but he is certainly an effective one. Jordan has a very similar role to Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks, a role which Dallas have found out isn’t easily duplicated. Chris Paul has averaged just under 10 assists per game this season, and a lot of those assists have come as a result of DeAndre Jordan and his supreme athleticism.
Jordan can soar, and he adds another dimension to a Clippers offense that can often rely too heavily on Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. With Griffin out for the foreseeable future, Jordan has relished at the challenge of keeping the Clippers afloat, alongside Chris Paul. In his last six games, Jordan has had almost 20 points and 20 rebounds in three of them. While it may to be too early to tell if they are succeeding, early signs are encouraging.
Doc Rivers seems to have lit a fire under Jordan, who often struggled under old coach Vinny Del Negro. Del Negro refused to play Jordan in the fourth quarter, which has hurt Jordan’s confidence. New head coach Doc Rivers, however, views Jordan as an integral part of the Clippers’ title chase. As a result of Rivers’ confidence, Jordan has seen career highs in minutes per game. Jordan now has a clearer role and knows that he has his coaches’ faith. This is huge for Jordan, who struggled with consistency during his earlier years. Rivers wants Jordan to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, and believes he is capable of doing so. An invigorated Jordan and the effort he gives on the defensive end has been huge as the Clippers now rank 22nd in opponents points per game. DeAndre Jordan may not be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate yet, but Clippers fans must be overjoyed at his dedication as the team already have 2 offensive superstars and are in desperate need of a defensive first player down low.
With Blake Griffin out and the Clippers right in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture, the time for DeAndre Jordan to prove his worth is now. This is not just for the sake of the Clippers, but also to the number of other teams that will be looking for a valuable big man in free agency.