But enough with the parenthetical action and general commentary. This is all bringing me around to talking about DeAndre Jordan and his new contract. Reactions have been mixed regarding the Clippers’ matching of the Warriors’ offer to Jordan, from John Hollinger’s point of view that it was a bad move, to a lot of “Let’s wait and see” talk from fans, to “They had to do it” from the point of view of a lot of bloggers I’ve seen commenting on the move.
On the issue of “Should the Clippers have matched,” John Hollinger may have convinced me that the team would have been better served to wait and see on Dwight Howard or another possible big move in the next offseason.
But now that the deal is done, we know DeAndre (barring an unforeseen trade) is going to be with the Clippers. His function is obvious: manning the middle defensively and filling empty space to score on dunks offensively. Who does this description lead us back to but the previously mentioned Tyson Chandler. In fact, a comparative look at the two (with each 3 seasons into his career) shows that DeAndre compares quite favorably with a young Chandler. If anything, it seems DeAndre fits the role of space-filler (both offensively and defensively) even better than Chandler did, both in terms of finishing at a higher rate (while being asked to have the ball in his hands even less than Chandler was) as well as rebounding at a higher rate.
While that’s wonderful news to hear, it does not mean DeAndre Jordan will be worth the contract the Clippers just signed him to, nor that he’ll grow into the type of player Tyson Chandler has become. That kind of value and growth can’t be illustrated so much with the more basic box score statistics, but through leadership, and specifically leadership on the defensive end. DeAndre Jordan has shown the ability to change shots on drives and guard players one-on-one, as well as do a good overall job against pick-and-roll offense (all according to Synergy data). But he of course has also shown that he still has issues with fouls, and that’s a key area he needs to improve in. I mention this right after talking about the importance of his defensive leadership because I think that leadership can only grow and improve if DeAndre can stay on the floor to get more game experience, as well as because the team benefits far better from on-the-floor leadership than from that coming from a guy on the bench losing minutes because of foul trouble.
If DeAndre will continue to grow both in terms of production and in terms of his leadership role, no one can know. It will all depend on his own efforts (and I think he’ll continue to work hard for his own good and the good of the team) and also on the efforts of the coaching staff in working with him and in establishing a strong defensive system. The best defensive big men have also been within good defensive systems, and it is no coincidence that Tyson Chandler has only just now been receiving the most praise I’ve heard for him in ages coming off his first and only season in Dwane Casey’s excellent system.
But I think the point I’ve been working my way towards while talking about this is that DeAndre Jordan is his own player. And he’s going to grow and develop based on his individual work and the work of the coaching staff. Obviously the role he’s going to play is that of a defensive center. But how effective he’ll end up being while doing that with the Clippers is to be determined, no matter what player he resembles via historical precedent.
With all this said, I think the fact that DeAndre’s development seems to resemble that of another good contemporary defensive center is a good sign, and I look forward to seeing him continue that development.