Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has been a fixture in trade rumors with the Celtics. Aside from his insane athleticism and dunking ability, what do we really know about his game?
On the surface, there isn’t much. He’s 24-years-old with career averages of 6.7 ppg and 6.6 rpg. We’re supposed to get excited about that?
Let’s go to the Clips Nation blog and get their take on Jordan.
Jordan posted a career high PER of 17.2 this season and has always been a darling of metrics like Wins Produced. He was a vastly improved scorer this season, averaging a career high 8.8 points per game. On a per 36 minute basis, his scoring average jumped to 13 after slowly declining from 10.6 to 9.7 over the first four seasons of his career. That is to say, after showing no improvement in scoring in his first four seasons, he had about a 30% increase in his fifth. He did this while leading the entire league in field goal percentage, making .643 of his shots. Sure, those are mostly dunks and putbacks — but he’s making them.
In his first four seasons in the league, the extent of Jordan’s range could safely have been described as “dunks” — and consequently, he tried to dunk everything, even when he was not particularly close to the basket. In season five, you could call his range “three feet and in” — it ain’t much, but it makes a difference. Jordan is finally able to make a jump hook (with either hand, it should be noted) when he gets great position, but still isn’t quite in dunking range.
Jordan is also a very good rebounder. He has the potential to be a great rebounder, which again frustrates people, but he’s much better than he’s generally given credit for. Per 36 minutes Jordan grabbed 10.6 rebounds per game this season; that’s not top 10 in the league, but it is top 20 among qualified players — just ahead of Roy Hibbert. And this is another area where Jordan could be better than he is.
I would not call defense a strength of Jordan’s, but with his improvement this season, I would not longer call it a weakness. He’s surprisingly quick, and does a very good job in pick and roll coverage given his size. He needs to continue to get better defending the post.
Alright, I’m feeling a bit better about this kid. The potential is there and he’s trending in the right direction.
Jordan has always been a truly terrible free throw shooter, and this season, unlike in other seasons, he got progressively worse as the season wore on. This was a surprising development, given that the Clippers hired shooting coach Bob Thate to work specifically with Griffin and Jordan this season. Griffin made significant improvement from the line — Jordan regressed. Over the past three seasons, Jordan had improved from .375 to .452 to .525 — an encouraging trend line that would have him above 60% within a season or two. This season, he shot .386.
Although it’s difficult to quantify, you’d also have to say that focus is a major weakness for DeAndre. There are too many games where he is a non-factor, too many possessions where he’s completely lost. Based on his quick starts the last two seasons, it seems as if maybe he makes a commitment to play better heading into a new season — and then eventually falls back into his old habits.
Part of his perceived problem is the burden of expectations. He’s not a bad player — but he could and should be so much better.
Terrible free-throw shooting aside, I’m more disturbed with the lack of focus. That typically can be cured with exposure to strong veteran leadership, but if the Celtics acquire Jordan, nearly all of their strong veteran leadership (KG, PP and Doc Rivers) will be lost in the transaction. The new veteran leader will be Rajon Rondo, a guy who doesn’t bring the killer instinct to every regular season game.
Prior to writing this blog, I had a sour reaction to Jordan because of his lack of significant progress over 5 seasons. But Steve Perrin of Clips Nation points out that Tyson Chandler had similar, if not worse, numbers than Jordan over the first 5 years of his career.
Jordan has two years on his contract at about $11 million per season. If he does end up in Boston and bombs, the contract won’t kill the franchise.
Consider him a risk worth taking.