When the Los Angeles Clippers traded a first round pick before the beginning of the 2013-14 season and acquired Doc Rivers to be their head coach, the main beneficiary turned out to be the athletic marvel at center. While his teammates also produced well under the new head man, DeAndre Jordan’s emergence as a top flight center would likely not have been possible without Rivers being in his ear every step of the way. In this Exit Interview, we look back at Jordan’s season and his extremely interesting upcoming offseason.
|YEARS IN NBA
|YEARS WITH CLIPPERS
|Unrestricted free agent.
While he is 26 years old right at this second, Jordan turns 27 towards the end of July. None of this is a problem really. His value at 27 years old will be his value at 26 years old; or even a slight bit higher due to 27 being the beginning of your prime in a lot of sports. Jordan completed his seventh season in the NBA, all of them with your beloved Los Angeles Clippers. His recent contract ran out after this most recent season and therefore he will be an unrestricted free agent when the offseason gets officially underway. His previous contract was the restricted free agent offer sheet he signed with the Golden State Warriors and the one that the Clippers, obviously, matched.
After posting career highs in 2013-14, DeAndre Jordan built upon those numbers and produced even bigger career highs this past season. The career highs that he posted this season were in points per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentage, threes made, free throw rate, Effective Field Goal Percentage, Win Shares, Win Shares Per 48 Minutes, Offensive Win Shares, and Player Efficiency Rating. Yes, threes made. He did make one and it was against the Dallas Mavericks. Jordan was one of just ten players who averaged a points and rebounds double-double this season while qualifying for the minutes per game leaderboard. He was the league leader in rebounds per game and field goal percentage for the second straight season. His 71.0 percent field goal percentage ranks second all-time for a single season behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 72.7 percent in 1972-73.
One side note about DeAndre Jordan’s free throw rate stuff. He posted the seventh highest regular season free throw rate of all-time among players who played 2000 or more minutes. And, also, his 1.938 free throw rate in the playoffs is the highest in NBA history among players who played 200 or more minutes. To put it simply, he was at the line an absurd amount of times this season thanks to hacking. In the 15 games that Jordan played while Blake Griffin was out with his injury, DeAndre averaged 14.9 points, 18.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 assists on 67.5 percent shooting. He posted four 20-20 games this year, tied for tops in the league with DeMarcus Cousins. Jordan was second to Anthony Davis in 10-10-2 – points, rebounds, and blocks – games this year, as well.
The second of three things he does well is block shots. He was one of four players to post a Block Percentage of 5.4 or higher this season while logging 2000 or more minutes. The others being Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, and Serge Ibaka. It was his second straight year of a 5.4 Block Percentage and it is just a tick above his 5.3 career mark. His 2.2 blocks per game ranked fifth in the league this season and his 183 total blocks ranked third. While he’s not the top defender at his position, he’s one of the better ones and uses his freakishly long arms and athleticism to swat any wayward shots.
Finally, Jordan is a really good backline protector. This goes beyond just blocking shots and deflecting balls out of bounds. It was especially evident in the playoffs as the Clippers were unequivocally better with him on the floor than off of it. In the 482 minutes Jordan played, the Clippers had a Defensive Rating of 103.1. In the 195 minutes he sat, it ballooned up to 110.6. In the series against the Houston Rockets, the Clippers had a 96.1 Defensive Rating when Jordan was on the floor and a staggeringly high 120.9 when he was off of it. Even James Harden was affected by Jordan’s presence. In the 185 minutes Harden played with Jordan on the floor, Harden only shot 35.5 percent from the field and was just 11-for-25 inside the paint. In the 72 minutes Harden played without Jordan in the game, Harden shot 47.6 percent and went 11-for-15 inside the paint. Jordan altered everything and it went far beyond what just raw block totals could ever show.
One of the other big deals with Jordan is that he’s not a real offensive threat. The only time Jordan makes teams pay on that end of the floor is when he’s getting a putback dunk, a drop off pass leading to a dunk, or an alley-oop. According to Baseball-Reference’s shot data, Jordan had 252 dunks this season and was assisted on 203 of them. The next closest guy in dunks was Tyson Chandler with 179. Jordan has led the NBA in that category for two straight seasons now. But he lacks any other move. He isn’t a post scorer – averaging just 0.74 points per possession on post-ups this season – and he doesn’t do anything else worthwhile on offense outside of setting screens. He’s just there. And that’s fine. The team is still productive with him on the floor because of his ability to cleanup the glass and dunk ferociously. You just can’t dump the ball in to Jordan and expect him to make a move to score.
Lastly, turnovers can be seen as something that he needs to improve on. A lot of them are of the lazy variety. Quite often, Jordan will not look where he’s passing whenever he’s taking the ball out of bounds and he’ll just toss the ball in lazily while a defender jumps in front to pick it off. He’s not alone in doing this. Blake Griffin and Matt Barnes have done this sort of stuff, as well. But for a center who rarely handles the ball to have 39 bad pass turnovers this season isn’t something that’s good. Little plays like that can decide very big games. Can’t turn the ball over with lackadaisical effort and expect to survive. Jordan has to do a better job of just being aware and avoid those types of mistakes.
It’s going to be very difficult for DeAndre Jordan to turn down the true max contract offer that the Clippers can throw his way in a few weeks. The five year, $110 million contract the Clippers will slide across the table for his agent and him to peruse will be among the largest doled out in the offseason. Whether he signs it is a different story entirely. No one knows. If you were in the betting mood, though, you’d have to bet on Jordan returning to Los Angeles as a member of the Clippers and standing beside Blake Griffin and Chris Paul for the next several seasons. The team is in the midst of their best run in franchise history. It seems impossible to imagine a former second round pick – who has consecutive finishes of third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting and, now, a First Team All-Defense selection as well as a Third Team All-NBA selection – leaving the comfort of this team he’s grown up with for no reason other than a whim after the team that drafted him has nurtured him and grown him into what he is.
Could DeAndre Jordan leave? Sure. But don’t bet on it. If anything, bet heavily against it.