For some NBA players their goal is to simply play in the game and get minutes. For DeAndre Jordan his goal is to be on the floor in the fourth quarter.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jordan expressed the frustration that came with being on the bench in majority of fourth quarters last season:
“There’s always some frustration,” Jordan said of not playing late in games. “The competitive players in this league, that’s what it’s about.
It’s no secret that Vinny Del Negro would rather go small than play Jordan in fourth quarters last season. Out of 2010 total minutes played in 2012-13, only 149 of them came in the fourth quarter. That’s less than ten percent of his minutes played. And in the playoffs things worsened. He played a total of five minutes out of 288 available fourth quarter minutes.
And this isn’t the first time Jordan has expressed his feelings on being on the bench in the fourth instead of the floor.
“I honestly don’t know why I don’t play in the fourth quarter,” Jordan said Wednesday night after failing to play in the final period for the third straight game. “You’re going to have to ask one of the coaches. That’s the coach’s decision.”
Jordan told ESPN LA writer Arash Markazi that in March of 2012.
But the numbers backed up Del Negro’s decision to sit Jordan. While the stat isn’t an end-all of all numbers, the Clippers posted a defensive rating of 98 in fourth quarters last season. In the other three? 101.3, 100.1 and 104.2.
I’ve yet to mention DeAndre Jordan’s free-throw woes which attributed to the late-game benching. No starter shot a worst percentage from the free-throw line than Jordan, who clocked in at 36 percent from the stripe which is the worst over the past two years. Being on the floor was an open invitation for teams to pull a “Hack-A-Shaq” and disrupt the Clippers offense. That wasn’t a risk Del Negro was willing to take.
The positive thing is that Jordan has acknowledged his faults and flaws throughout the summer. He knows he’s key to a successful season for the Clippers and has talked on improving all facets of his game, most importantly being the defense. Making $10 million this year, no one is going to want DeAndre Jordan to transform into Dwight Howard or Marc Gasol overnight. If he can bring to the Clippers what Milwaukee Bucks star Larry Sanders brings on the defensive end he’ll have lived up to the lucrative contract he received two summers ago.
With the addition of Doc Rivers we’ll see how Jordan plays out. At best he’ll be the key force behind a championship contender. But if things don’t work out he’ll be auditioning for teams to acquire at the trade deadline.