Last season, Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan finished third in most dunks in the league, with 179. Fellow Clipper Blake Griffin was first with 202. These two players inspired the moniker of Lob City. While Jordan is a very athletic dunker, his on-the-court performance has not justified his $43-million contract he signed two years ago. His free throw percentage dropped to 38 percent, he has no offensive game and he is often sitting on the bench during the fourth quarter.
During the offseason, the Clippers signed Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison to help spread the floor. This leaves the Clippers with only one legit shot blocker: Jordan. Last season, he averaged only 1.4 blocks per game. The Clippers, in fact, would have traded Jordan to the Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett if NBA Commissioner David Stern did not block the trade. Alas, Clippers fans will have to endure another long season of Jordan’s offensive and defensive woes if he does not step up his game.
In the summer, Jordan participated in a four-day minicamp with Team USA. He said he learned a lot from coach Mike Krzyzewski about rotating on defense and being more vocal. It paid off as he played the most minutes of any other center on the white team, where he had 10 points and nine rebounds. He vows to make defense his No. 1 priority.
As the longest-tenured player on the Clippers roster, Jordan knows how the Clippers’ culture was before the arrival of Griffin. Now the Clippers are one of the hottest teams in the league. They will get better with Doc Rivers manning the team. He has confidence in Jordan, who did not earn former-coach Vinny Del Negro‘s trust.
It will be a fresh start with Jordan. He may have the starting job, but he has to prove he deserves the minutes too; otherwise, somebody else may steal his fourth-quarter minutes once again.