Culture of Hoops

Sonny’s Top 50 NBA Players: #21 DeAndre Jordan

Resume: 11.5 points, (career best), 15.0 rebounds (1st in league, career best), 1.0 steal (career best), 2.2 blocks (4th in league), 471 free throw attempts (5th in league), 47 double-doubles (3rd in league), 34.4 minutes, 71% FG (1st in league, career best, 2nd highest All-Time), 40% FT … Team Record in Games Played: 56-26 … Playoffs: 13.1 points (career best), 13.4 rebounds (career best), 1.1 steal (career best), 2.4 blocks, 34.4 minutes, 72% FG, 43% FT, 3-4 record … 3rd Team All-NBA, 1st Team All-Defense

Los Angeles Clippers Center DeAndre Jordan brings a rather puzzling resume to the top 50 countdown committee (me). There hasn’t been a player over the last two seasons who has gone back and forth between being considered overrated and being considered as much as DeAndre has. This is mainly due to the fact that his skillset makes it difficult for people to comprehend whether what he’s bringing to the table each night makes up for what he’s taking off of it. This is the Bill Simmons Table-Test-Guy conundrum:

What DeAndre Brings to the Table 

  • He’s an elite offensive rebounder, a category where he ranked second in the NBA last season per Basketball-Reference. According to Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry, the Clippers average 129 points per 100 possession after a DeAndre Jordan offensive rebound. If my math serves me correctly, that means the Clippers got an average of 5.3 more points per game because DeAndre Jordan pulled down 4.9 offensive rebounds per game. Those numbers might not be correct. There are many reasons why I’m not a mathematician, the most important one being I’m not good at math.
  • Jordan knows where his bread is buttered offensively, and he takes full advantages of the touches he gets. Per Basketball-Reference, a career best 92 percent of Jordan’s field goal attempts came from three feet or closer, and Jordan made 74 percent of those shots. As you could have seen above in Jordan’s statistical resume, he posted the second best single-season field goal percentage ever last year.
  • Though he’s not Bill Russell (sorry Doc), DeAndre is a very good defensive player, most definitely worthy of consideration of Defensive Player of the Year last season. He ranked first in total defensive rebounds and defensive rebound percentage, and per Jordan was an above-average rim protector, better than often praised interior defenders like Tyson Chandler, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol.
  • On a slightly less important note, Jordan is one of the most effective and devastating lob-catchers in the league. This is most definitely a skill, and it’s impressive that he’s as destructive as he is when the Clippers can’t keep the floor as spread as most teams would like. Think about the space Jordan would have had rolling to the hoop if he were playing alongside a floor-spacing four like Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas. Then again, think about how easy Chris Paul makes DeAndre Jordan’s basketball life.

What DeAndre Takes off the Table 

  • There isn’t a guy in the league who makes $22 million a year who is so limited offensively. As mentioned above, DeAndre is going to scavenge for baskets on the offensive boards and cash in on pick and rolls. Per, Jordan got 66 post touches last season and the Clippers only scored 0.77 points per possession on those possessions. Clippers back-up Center Spencer Hawes was more potent from the post last year.
  • Jordan is one of the absolute worst free throw shooters ever in the history of the NBA, and teams took advantage of this, utilizing the Hack-A-Jordan strategy far more often than anyone would like to see. This, of course, makes Jordan a complete liability late in most tight games.
  • More on Hack-A-Jordan: nobody likes this and it makes watching the typically fun Clippers sometimes unbearable to watch. In 23 of the Clippers 96 games (almost 25 percent) Jordan took at least ten free throws. In those games 23 games where we can assume Hack-A-Jordan was implemented, Jordan took 368 free throws and made 153 of them. That’s 41 percent, actually slightly higher than his overall mark.

So the question becomes what do you value more? Should DeAndre be praised for mastering a couple of different aspects of the game, or should he be criticized for failing to improve in a few very fundamental areas? I’d say that Jordan is probably underrated, because of the guys who are of this sort of niche, DeAndre is by far the best of the bunch. There is a lot of value in what DeAndre does well, and it’s not like he hasn’t improved in almost every aspect of his game over his career. DeAndre has gotten better, and he’ll probably be better this season too. At least the Clippers would hope so after holding him hostage, stealing him away from Dallas, pissing off Mark Cuban and giving him $88 million.

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