Most basketball fans began the countdown to the tip-off of the 2012-13 NBA season as soon as the Miami Heat won the 2012 NBA Championship.
Good, you should have.
When it comes to making lists or tacking information with a set number of days–June to October can be a problem. In this case, Fully Clips and I have waited until the season was 10 days away to provide 10 aspects of the game of basketball, story lines or roster management moves the Los Angeles Clippers will showcase in the new season.
The basketball art form known as a traditional center is officially gone in the NBA, especially since the league is taking the position out of All-Star voting. Some guys such as Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh were always tall enough to be listed at center, but never had the girth of a Shaquille O’Neal, Patick Ewing or even a Dikembe Mutombo to really be considered at the five spot.
DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers, has the size and the physical ability to match any so-called center in the league, but his basketball fundamentals and skill set has been no where close. If he doesn’t step up his game, LA could be in trouble.
No. 7: DeAndre Jordan
When someone looks at the Clippers’ roster, there are only three guys to put in the low-post to either score points or take them away: Blake Griffin, Lamar Odom and Jordan. Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf can play defense, but are relatively null and void offensively.
We all know Griffin is going to score 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds a game. Along the way he’ll throw down some monster dunks for NBA.com’s video highlight reels and remain the face of the NBA for the younger viewers. Odom is coming off the worst season of his 13-year NBA career but seems to be in the right environment with the right opportunity to become what he was once upon a time–one of the most versatile players in the league.
Jordan is surrounded in questions of whether or not he is going to ever have a breakout year. I personally thought it was going to be last season with the Clippers’ addition of Chris Paul–a point guard who turned Tyson Chandler into a every possession scoring threat. It didn’t happen as Jordan went on to average 7.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Yes, these averages were the highest of his four-year career, but his efforts seemed lackluster. He seems to forget what he’s supposed to be doing from time to time on the court.
If he continues to look lackluster or lost, the Clippers will have to come up with some trade options. What NBA franchise wants to pay their center–a position that doesn’t exist anymore–$10.5 million a year to be outperformed by more than half of the big men in the league?
Jordan’s salary is the second highest on the Clippers’ payroll behind Chris Paul. He is getting paid $2.3 million more than Odom, $2.5 million more than Caron Butler and $3.3 mill more than Griffin. He needs to play to his contract or at least play at a level that will help the Clips win games.
I like Jordan–a lot. I think he is a physical specimen who could run and jump all over most people in the NBA with the exception of Dwight Howard and LeBron James. He has found a love for crashing the boards–something he didn’t have a couple seasons ago– is a fantastic shot blocker and is one of the best finishers in the league. If he goes up for a dunk, there is a 98% chance he is smashing it home.
The problem is, he has to do these things on a nightly basis. The Clippers need him more than ever to be the guy they can rely on to control the paint because of his size and God given talent.
Defensively, he has the timing to block any shot he wants to but he is slow to bring help defense. The Clippers need an anchor. A tough, big man who isn’t going to let easy baskets slip through the cracks and cost the team in the clutch. There were quite a few times in the 2012 NBA Playoff Semifinals when the San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili slipped right past Jordan.
That’s fine, as long as he swats the ball in the end–but he didn’t.
Offensively, I’m not looking for him to score 20 points a game because the Clippers don’t need that type of production. On the other hand, they do need 10-to-15 and someone to pull the low-post defense off of Griffin. Last season, Jordan’s longest streak of games with double-digit scoring was two–which he did twice.
For a 6’11” monster of a man alongside of one of the best ball distributing point guards (Paul) in the history of the league, Jordan should at least score 10 points every night.
If the Clippers want a real chance of winning the Western Conference or at even be considered an NBA Finals hopeful, Jordan has to bring his A-game every night, especially in the post season. They need a defensive anchor and an offensive clean up guy.
In my opinion, Jordan is that guy.
But he has to think he is before anything can happen. Having all the physical talent in the world doesn’t mean anything if the mind doesn’t follow. If Jordan can stay focused, he could be a top five center in the league, but if he doesn’t, he will remain in the middle of the pack. Positioning in the middle of the pack could very well result with him being dealt before his contract ends in 2015.
Hopefully, he does everyone a favor and plays to his potential.