The Los Angeles Clippers rugged, rim-protecting center, DeAndre Jordan, had quite the run during the 2016 Olympics in Rio as the United States took home yet another gold medal. He was a huge piece of Team USA’s puzzle, providing consistent lockdown defense and plentiful energy to combat their international competition.
According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Jordan now views himself differently, according to Clippers coach Doc Rivers. Doc had some high praise for his center, touching on his importance to the Clippers success:
“He sees himself now as a star. As good as he is, I don’t think he’s ever seen himself as one. He’s always been the third guy so he’s looked at himself as a role player in some ways. Now he knows how good he is and I think any time you’re around winning, it’s important, and I think DJ now knows what winning looks like. Of all our guys, I think he’s the most important guy this summer for us.”
The debate of whether or not Jordan has entered the superstar stratosphere has been heating up over the past few years and peaked this year. Before winning his first gold, Jordan was named to his first All-NBA First Team. That award came at the expense of DeMarcus Cousins (second team), Kevin Durant (second team), and James Harden (somehow didn’t make any team), just to name a few.
He’s one of the best rebounders in the NBA and his 13.8 per game were good for second last season. Moreover, he’s the best interior presence in the league, combining great size with tremendous athleticism that has caused him to finish top-five in blocks per game in each of the last three seasons.
Where the conversation halts on Jordan, though, is when it comes to his skill on offense. It’s almost non-existent. Most of his points come via dunks–lobs, specifically. According to NBA.com, 227 of DJ’s made field goals were dunks and 133 of them were alley-oops. He has no post game to speak of, but you can’t crucify him for not being more involved on offense because the Clips have Blake Griffin and Chris Paul doing most of the heavy lifting. Besides, Jordan does his part with his ability to set screens on- or off-ball.
But because of his ineptitude for creating shots for himself, defenses don’t need to stress as much when game planning for him. He’s radically efficient on his chances, however, and has led the league in field goal percentage each of the last four seasons; he’s also the NBA’s all-time leader in that category at 67 percent.
The one major gripe that everyone has with Jordan is his horrendous free throw shooting. Of all the players who attempted 400-plus free throws this year, Jordan’s 43 percent ranked second-to-last, according to Basketball-Reference. That is the Clippers’ biggest hindrance because Jordan is a liability toward the end of the game with the “hack-a-player” rule and it almost negates all of his impact on the defensive end–this is with the changes by the league to that rule.
For Jordan to be viewed league-wide as a bona fide superstar, his offense needs to show steady improvement. Until then, he’ll remain as a stellar defender.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted
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