DeAndre Jordan still has a ways to go before coming an elite defender. He still chase blocks. His weak side rotations are still spotty. Brain lapses here and there. But the public perception of him is changing on that end as he finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting, with Joakim Noah (CHI) blowing out the field on his way to winning the award. Roy Hibbert (IND) finished in second place and Serge Ibaka (OKC) and Andre Iguodala (GSW) rounded out the rest of the top five.
Do I think Jordan was the third best defensive player in the league this year? Of course not. He wasn’t the best defensive in the Western Conference. That would be Golden State’s Andrew Bogut. Overall, Serge Ibaka, Andre Iguodala, Dwight Howard and Paul George, top-ten finishers in DPOY, were better on that end of the floor than Jordan and many others who appeared on the list.
But he finished third and that’s a good sign going forward.
Whether you think Jordan is overrated on that end, one can’t ignore the impact he had on the Clippers this season. Behind his play, the Clippers finished top-10 in defensive rating. According to SportsVU, Jordan allowed opponents 49 percent at the rim. Lead the league in defensive rebounds. Was second in total blocks and third in blocks per game. These were all major improvements, some by way of Doc Rivers and some by way of an increase in playing tie. And when you factor in the lack of a capable backup into the equation, Jordan’s effort come up bigger. These are all the signs of improvement on the defensive end of the floor, an improvement that voters couldn’t ignore.
This is only the beginning. The league’s perception of how good a defender DeAndre Jordan is is far ahead of his true production, but that’s usually how things start. Players respect him when they enter the paint and coaches are now having to force themselves to game plan for his presence.
If DAJ wins the award next season, don’t be surprised. The blueprint was set this season.