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Jared Jordan or Dan Dickau?

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Today's LA Times reports that, not only has Jared Jordan been traded to the Knicks for cash considerations, the Clippers will actively pursue Dan Dickau when the Knicks finalize his buyout.  Now, if you're wondering why they didn't just work out a trade, it's because the Clippers don't want to pay Dickau the $2.8M he's owed this season, so that's pretty simple.

If you're wondering why the Clippers would be more interested in Dickau than Jared Jordan, well, it's not so simple.  Interestingly, as Jared's status with the Clippers continued to be in doubt, I was mulling the parallels in his situation with some other white point guards such as Sarunas Jasikevicius, and, yes, Dan Dickau.  Whether it's only perception or also reality, there aren't a lot of white point guards in the NBA.  NBA coaches want, at a minimum, great lateral quickness and solid perimeter defense from the smallest player on the court, and with very few exceptions (Steve Nash and Sam Cassell come to mind) poor defenders simply never get a chance at the one.  (Let's point out that Kirk Hinrich is a terrific perimeter defender, and also happens to be white.)  In a league suffering a shortage of (a) solid point guards and (b) team leaders, it's astounding to me that Jasikevicius, widely recognized as the best player in Europe (at least in his prime), never really got a chance in the NBA.  It makes you realize what an uphill climb it will be for Jared.  

(While we're on this subject, I think the issues are compounded by the NBA's superstar system.  In the NBA, you're either a designated scorer and anointed superstar, or it's your job to play defense.  There's is very little room on NBA rosters for great offensive players who nonetheless aren't the star of the team.  Maybe a sixth man here or there.  But the job of the members of the supporting cast is to play defense, and if you're found to be lacking there, your opportunities suffer.  It's a phenomenon well illustrated by the Corey Maggette / Quinton Ross situation in LA.)

Being myself an undersized, white, slow, pass-first point guard, I identify with them.  I hope that doesn't make me a racist!

But back to the question of Jared Jordan versus Dan Dickau.  I should point out that I happen to be a fan of Dickau's as well.  As a Pepperdine grad and fan, I saw Dickau many, many times against my Waves during his Gonzaga career.  He had a stretch of 5 minutes of basketball in the WCC championship his senior year, that ranks among the most dominant stretches I've ever seen.  TMac against the Spurs a couple seasons ago and LeBron against the Pistons in the playoffs last year are two that come to mind as better, and of course there were a few examples with MJ, but I can't think of others.  Dickau simply took over, turning a close game into a comfortable Zags lead.  He shot from the three-point line and made it, and the next time down the floor the defense picked him up at the line, so he shot from two steps behind it and made it, and the next time they picked him up higher, so he shot from 4 steps behind the line and made it.  It didn't really matter where he shot from, the ball was going in.

And that is probably the biggest difference between the two; Dickau is a good floor leader (at least he was in college), a very good passer, and a great shooter.  Jordan is a good floor leader (maybe great), an astounding passer, and a suspect shooter.  As it happens, given the Clippers' overall lack of outside shooting and their need to spread the floor for their post players, Dickau may actually be the better fit.  He's a 40% three point shooter on his NBA career.

I'll point out that I've mentioned Dickau on several occasions.  Last season as the trade deadline was approaching, I saw him as an interesting possibility in exchange for Rebraca.  And if anyone out there remembers my old blog, I actually nominated him as a guy who I thought could emerge from obscurity to be a good NBA player (a la Boris Diaw in 2005).  The one and only time he got consistent minutes, as the starter for the Hornets in late 2005, he put up some pretty impressive numbers (13 points and 5 assists in 31 minutes per over 67 games).  Better, for instance, than Steve Blake's Denver numbers last season.  He parlayed that stretch into a decent contract offer.  When the Hornets drafted Chris Paul, Dickau was traded to the Celtics, where he was expected to compete for the starting job.  After 19 games, he ruptured his Achilles' tendon, and he's back to square one, trying to find a home.

Of course, none of this addresses the ongoing roster glut.  If the Clippers do indeed pursue Dickau, then he goes straight in to the either/or scenario with Diaz.  I still feel queasy about the prospect of Diaz being forced to play the point for any appreciable amount of time, and assume that MDsr feels the same way.  That, combined with an uneasyness with Jared Jordan's defense, is undoubtedly the reason Dickau is being discussed at all.

Camp opens in Santa Barbara tomorrow.  We'll find out soon enough who starts out at camp.  It will be awhile before we know who finishes.