Team USA has invited Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan to training camp in preparation for the 2014 World Cup that will be held in Spain. Jordan has accepted the invitation and plans to focus on his defense. As the unofficial comedian of the Clippers’ roster, it is good to hear Jordan training to improve his game. He will have excellent coaches to soak up all there is to know about defense in head coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistant coach, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
Last year Jordan averaged 1.4 blocks per game. However, his minutes dropped from 27.2 minutes the year before to 24.5 last season. His free throw percentage also declined. Two years ago it was at a career-best 52.5 percent. Last year, it was at ridiculously low 38.6 percent. His liability on both ends of the court led then head coach Vinny Del Negro to bench him in the fourth quarter in favor of Lamar Odom or Ronny Turiaf.
Two defensive tasks Jordan will have to learn in international competition is defending the pick-and-roll and avoiding unnecessary fouls. About 80 percent of European basketball offensive plays begin and finish with the pick-and-roll or the pick-and-pop. Jordan has the athleticism to guard any player; he just needs to be aware of when his man will roll for an inside shot or pop out for a jump shot. In the NBA, only a select few big men can shoot from outside. It is rather common in the European leagues. Another difference is that in international competition, a player is only allowed to commit five fouls before fouling out. That means Jordan better not be so eager to block a shot, when his opponent ends up faking the first attempt and draws the foul.
Jordan is also learning to pick up a go-to post move and a counter move. While defense is his priority, he is not neglecting to improve on the offensive side.
Team USA had invited 10 bigs to join their minicamp in Las Vegas, but only two or three will make the official trip to Spain next year. Here’s hoping Jordan learns as much as he can during his stay with the team.