When Doc Rivers was hired as the new coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, questions began to surface about how he would get along with DeAndre Jordan.
While Jordan had been heralded because of his size and athleticism since he entered the league five years prior, he had been criticized for his lack of maturity and inability to grasp defensive concepts. Even though Jordan has been the Clippers’ starting center since his third season in the league, he never averaged more than 27 minutes per game.
Those questions have now been answered as Jordan has transformed into an entirely different player.
He has improved in every defensive category this season. Jordan is currently leading the league in rebounding with 13.8 per game, almost double his career average. He is currently fourth in the league in blocks with 2.4 per game. He has also seen an increase in playing time, averaging 35.5 minutes per game. Rivers has shown faith in Jordan, who has responded by playing the best basketball of his career.
The most impressive aspect of Jordan’s game, which doesn’t show up in the box score, is his team defense. Jordan was always a capable one-on-one defender, but was slow when it came to rotating and help defense. He has vastly improved in those areas, understanding the fact that he is the last line of defense. He is aware that he is the Clippers’ anchor and protector of the paint, and he is excelling at it.
The Clippers currently hold the fourth-best record in the Western Conference thanks in large part to Jordan’s improved defensive play. As long as he continues to play defense like he has been for the first half of the season, he should be a clear favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year honors. They say defense wins championships, and Jordan is hoping that the expression rings true for the Clippers.