Center DeAndre Jordan played his best basketball last season. He was one of many players on the Los Angeles Clippers who developed under head coach Doc Rivers.
Finding a good big man in the NBA today is challenging. The Clippers finally added a quality big to come off the bench with the signing of Spencer Hawes. Hawes is comfortable in the high-post, shooting mid-range spot up shots and out of pick and pops. He will have an abundance of open looks setting screens for Chris Paul, and with him being the efficient shooter that he is, it will open up the lane a little bit for Jordan and Blake Griffin.
The same can be said for re-signing Glen Davis. Big Baby, like Hawes, is known for his shooting away from the paint. Both bigs have the ability to get points with their back to the basket here and there. The improved frontline focuses on offense, as the team defense funnels the ball towards Jordan in the paint. Jordan and Davis are scheduled to hit the open market next offseason.
Although Paul made his third straight All-Defensive First Team, Jordan is the star of the defense that placed third in Defensive Player of the Year voting. Paul and Griffin are the cornerstone All-Star players, and the next most important player moving forward is Jordan. The guy increased his block average from 1.4 to 2.5 and his rebounds went up from 7.2 to 13.6. He played 10 minutes more per game under Rivers and boosted his field goal percentage by virtually dunking everything. He definitely needs to keep improving at the free throw line. Although he boosted his percentage by five percent, he still shot a dismal 43 percent and was a targeted liability in fourth quarters. Best-case scenario, he brings it up to nearly 50 percent. Worst-case scenario, they risk defense by replacing him with Hawes, a 78 percent shooter from the stripe.
What this means is the Clippers will see immediate benefits to having a second unit of veteran bigs who have a stroke. In the uptempo Western Conference, they’ll be able to mix and match to maximize each of their strengths. I believe Jamal Crawford is looking to cash out on his last NBA contract, but hopefully the veteran wants to win a championship before hanging it up. The Clippers give him that opportunity, just not at the expense of allowing Jordan hit the open market next summer. Something’s got to give, and it’s usually the option with more basketball in the rear view.
The future will be invested in the 25-year-old Jordan, who could be playing his way to the All-Star Game with teammates Paul and Griffin. An All-Star reserve last year, Jordan led the league in rebounding and field goal percentage, ranked third in blocks and averaged a double-double. This is a guy blossoming under one of the best coaches in the league, alongside two of the best players in the league. He’s still offensively raw, but with the confidence that coach Rivers has exuded into his rim protector who gets up and down the court, a monster is being created.
This offseason has been dedicated to forming the best roster possible. We might not hear any extension talks before the season gets underway, but expect a deal to be discussed around All-Star Weekend.