|Name||Hyland DeAndre Jordan||Position||Center|
|Experience||8 seasons||Contract||3 years/$67.9 million|
2015-16 Stats (per game)
It wasn’t all too long ago that many of us supported trading DeAndre Jordan to Boston for Kevin Garnett back in the summer of 2013, in the middle of the Doc Rivers trade talks. How fortunate we are that Clippers guardian angel David Stern stepped in and prevented that move from potentially happening. DeAndre’s growth under Doc Rivers the last three years has been incredible to watch as a fan. Of course he’ll never be Bill Russell, as Doc famously suggested he could a few seasons back, but every day he gets closer and closer. DeAndre has put up career years each of the last three seasons, and after his summer in Rio it seems likely that he’ll outdo himself again this year.
Jordan’s defense was once overhyped, as he too often jumped at shot fakes and went for blocks, but over the years he’s slowly mastered the finer points of rim protection and help defense. Opposing coaches and players regularly compliment his defensive communication and basketball IQ (one of the most underrated aspects of his game).
He’s now unquestionably among the very best defenders in the league, someone whose mere presence terrifies guards from driving the lane and challenging him (Damian Lillard only shooting 36% from the field in the first round was in large part due to Jordan’s efforts frustrating him on the perimeter and at the rim). Few bigs can switch onto guards on the perimeter like he does, and even fewer actually have a prayer when left on an island against Steph Curry.
On the other end, many fans still underrate his massive offensive impact. Few non-superstars can warp and contort defenses without even touching the ball like Jordan can. Zach Lowe is among those who’ve waxed lyrical about his offensive prowess.
As for Jordan, it's time to celebrate what he does instead of lamenting his limitations. Announcers need to stop with the snide remarks about how Jordan shoots 70 percent because, duh, all his shots are dunks.
Yo, dunks are awesome. If you can dunk, you should dunk. You know who else shoots 70 percent? No one, ever. It would be nice if Jordan could hit a mid-range shot, loft a jump hook or make free throws at a higher rate than a coordinated kindergarten student, but the man is an offensive force. For every Jordan dunk, there are five or six rolls to the rim where the mere threat of Jordan dunking opens up a shot for someone else.
Jordan is the NBA's unappreciated ironman -- nit-picked for what he can't do, instead of being celebrated for what he does. The fear of a lob pass tethers Jordan's defenders to him, freeing Paul, Griffin, Jamal Crawford and other Clippers to drive unimpeded to the rim. His mere presence, and the threat of a demoralizing dunk, makes opposing centers wet their pants in indecision.
Although he rarely gets to touch the ball on offense outside of dunks or handoffs, Jordan is increasingly becoming a good passer for his position. With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, it’s not an ability he gets to show off often, but he’s shown a knack at times for some deft playmaking. In particular, he’s a very good outlet passer.
After finishing First Team All-NBA, it’s crazy to think that Jordan probably still hasn’t had his best season yet. Could that be this year, coming off the famous Team USA bump?
The West is crowded with talented frontcourt players, but this might also finally be the year Jordan gets his first All-Star nod. I wouldn’t hold my breath, but if the Clippers get off to a hot start and Jordan has a big year he could be in line.
Statistically, DeAndre’s numbers this season shouldn’t be too different from the past two or three. Although he might be improved offensively, it’s possible that his points per game dip slightly simply because he’ll probably be sent to the line a little bit less with the modified hacking rules. He may have already peaked athletically, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing him decline significantly for another few years.