Since the 1999 draft, the Orlando pre-draft camp has conducted a combine in which they measure prospects 27 different ways. In those 10 years, here is the complete list of current NBA players who have been through their doors who have a longer reach than DeAndre Jordan (9'5.5"):
There aren't any. Pavel Podkolzine measured out at 9'8", which by iteslf was enough to get him drafted in the first round, 21st overall in 2004. DeAndre Jordan may not yet be a particularly skilled basketball player, but I think we can safely assume that he's better than Pavel Podkolzine.
To be fair, not everyone goes through Orlando. Yao didn't go there. Andrew Bynum isn't in the database either, which surprised me. But most of the big names of recent history are in there. Here are some names of players who don't have Jordan's standing reach:
- Dwight Howard - 9'3.5"
- Desagana Diop - 9'5"
- Greg Oden - 9'4"
- Darko Milicic - 9'3.5"
- Eddy Curry - 9'3"
- Emeka Okafor - 9'2.5"
- Andrew Bogut - 9'2.5"
- Chris Kaman - 9'2.5"
- Elton Brand - 9'2"
A 9'5.5" standing reach and $3.65 will get you a triple grande non-fat latte at the Starbucks. But still, you can't teach reach. It just so happens that this guy is also incredibly athletic for someone his size. He posted respectable scores in both the lane agility test and the 3/4 court sprint - in fact, he's as fast as Oden, who amazed everyone with his speed last year. And still, none of this has much to do with playing basketball. But athletic 19 year olds this size don't grow on trees. If he has any will at all to become a good professional basketball player (a big if, no question), he certainly has all the physical gifts to get there.
My fervent hope is that MDsr puts him in a situation where he gets to play significant minutes this season. If he's ready in the estimation of the coaching staff to get the backup center minutes right away, great. If not, send him to the D-League and let him play for the Arsenal. The last thing DeAndre Jordan needs is to be sitting on the bench, getting yelled at in practice for missing defensive rotations. The kid needs to play basketball. MDsr has yet to send a single Clipper player to the D-League, completing ignoring its potential as a training ground for players. Yaroslav Korolev rotted on the bench when he should have been playing. Meanwhile, the Spurs, the best run team in basketball, utilizes their D-League team extensively. Let's hope that MDsr is ready to try something new if indeed Jordan is not yet ready for prime time.
The good news is that Kim Hughes has been a very successful big man mentor for Chris Kaman. Hopefully he can have a similar impact on Jordan. Kaman of course has been an incredibly willing student. It remains to be seen if the same can be said of DeAndre.
Much has been made of his lack of productivity and diminishing playing time at Texas A&M. And sure, it's not a good sign when the number 8 recruit in the nation can only manage to average 20 minutes per game for the Aggies. There are a couple of things worth noting about that. He joined a team that returned three players 6'9" and over. Joseph Jones averaged 15.3 points in 29 minutes per game as a sophomore for the Aggies, and only 10.3 points in 24.5 minutes as a senior last season. This was a big and deep A&M team, and there just weren't a ton of minutes for all of their big people. They had the luxury of bringing Jordan along slowly. It should also be stated that the Aggies were pretty darn good - 25 and 11 overall, with their last two losses being in the Big 12 semis to eventual national champion Kansas by 6 points, and in the second round of the NCAA's to Final Four participant UCLA by 2 points.
It certainly looks ugly when you see that string of low minute games during tournament time. A DNP on March 13th, followed by games of 5, 4, 5 and 15 minutes. It looks like the coaching staff totally gave up on the guy when the games counted most. But on closer inspection, it turns out that the kid was sick on March 13th, and the next two games came on consecutive days as part of the Big 12 tournament, and he was still in a weakened condition. So I think the 20+ minutes per game he got the rest of the time is a better indication of his contributions. Was he dominant in college? No, not by a long shot, at 8 points and 6 rebounds per game. But bear in mind that those numbers were in 20 minutes per, and that he shot almost 62% from the field. If Justin from the SoCalSportsHub tells us that he only took dunks and that he missed a lot of them, I guess we'll have to take his word for it, because none of us watched a lot of Aggies hoops this season. But he still made more 113 of 183 shots in his college career. That's a fact, and it ain't bad. (The free throw shooting, on the other hand....)
When all is said and done, the Clippers drafted an athletic, 19 year old, 7 footer with the 35th pick in the draft. Considering that we're used to getting the likes of Daniel Ewing (32nd) or Lionel Chalmers (33rd) drafting in that position, I gotta say I'm good with the reservations that many people have with DeAndre Jordan.
UPDATE: I meant to include this thought in the original post, but neglected to do so in my haste to press the publish button. Clipper fans don't have to work too hard to understand the worst case scenario for DeAndre Jordan. Although they did not measure standing reach in 1998, Michael Olowokandi measured out as 2 inches taller than Jordan with a 2 inch greater wingspan. An NBA body does not an NBA player make. For my part, I'll be watching him in Summer League to see how his hands are, and how motivated he looks. You can't teach reach, but you also can't teach good hands, and you can't teach anything if the pupil doesn't want to learn. Without good hands, the best NBA body is just Kwame Brown. And without the proper motivation and desire (the ubiquitous 'motor' in prospect parlance), the best NBA body is Michael Olowokandi. But here's the thing: those two guys were drafted number 1 overall. The Clippers got Jordan at 35. That's a big difference.