After this summer's infamous "indecision", DeAndre Jordan ended up back with the Clippers on a maximum contract. This year, he's averaging 12 points, 14 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game in 33.8 minutes. He's shooting 71% from the field. DJ has also upped his averages to 13.5 points and 15.3 rebounds in Blake's absence (before a 21-point, 16-rebound performance in Boston last night). Through the 50 games he's played so far, how do our writers grade DeAndre's performance?
Niels Pineda: B+/A-: After DeArmageddon (or whatever it was called this summer), expectations were high for DJ. Our high flying center wanted to be a more integral part of our offense, and I think a lot of people were hoping to see some major improvements. Unfortunately, I can't say I have seen much improvement at all on that end. Don't get me wrong, he still brings a lot of great things to the table and he is proving to be well worth his max contract. His rebounding and rim protection are elite, and his ability to catch and finish just about any lob is incredible. Even so, he still falls short in other categories. His free throw shooting (which has definitely looked better as of late) still ranks as one of the worst in the league, and if he really wanted to be a more integral part of the offense, then it hasn't quite shown. Granted, I hope Doc starts calling more plays for DJ, because it seems that his PnR lob-play is nearly unguardable, but I feel some of the problems come with DJ failing to dive on occasions where he should. On top of that, he still tends to make very silly mistakes, like offensive interferences and painfully obvious goal tends, and his incessant arguing is getting a bit old. While DJ didn't exceed expectations, which may have been a bit too unrealistic considering how high they were early on, he is still absolutely crucial for the Clippers. He is a big part of our success and I hope to see more consistency and improvement from him as the season goes on.
Davey Bales: A-. I couldn't bring myself to bring him an A with the storm cloud that is his free throw shooting hanging over him, but DJ has been everything we've come to expect from one of the most consistent players in the league. His on-ball defense and his tendency to just leap for rebounds without boxing out leave something to be desired, but his ability to affect shots at the rim and finish at an NBA-leading rate (currently shooting 70.9% from the field) will keep him in the All-Star conversation year in and year out. It's tough to understate the importance of DJ's dependability and had he actually taken his talents to Dallas, this team would've been in deep trouble.
Lucas Hann: B+. DeAndre has played very well in the recent stretch after being a little disengaged earlier in the season. It wasn't a slump brought on by injuries like Chris Paul's early struggles, but seemed to be more of a focus issue. Lately, that hasn't been the issue--he shot well (by his standards) from the free throw line in January (49%) and he's really come into his own offensively, not by developing traditional skills, but by somehow improving his timing and instincts rolling to the basket, where he draws a ton of attention because he's going up to get 15-foot lobs multiple times a night. It's something we're calling "vertical spacing"--and it's real. He gets a little bit of a bump down for not putting his hands up on shooting big men, no matter who he's guarding or what the situation is.
Larson Ishii: A as in All Star. After a summer of turmoil, DeAndre Jordan has been All Star level good. With the help of a scheme change from Doc, DeAndre Jordan anchors a borderline elite defense -- top 7 for the year and top 4 since Blake went down and top 3 since Luc was made a starter. On the offensive side, he still remains the NBA's premier pick and roll finisher, once again leading the league in field goal %. While DJ may not be the DPOY that Doc claims, he still remain really really good, and even somewhat underrated by many Clipper fans.