How Important Is DeAndre Jordan to the Los Angeles Clippers?
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the unquestioned superstars for the Los Angeles Clippers. One (Griffin) is a starter in this year's All-Star game, while the other (Paul) is a reserve for the Western Conference.
They each have endorsement deals with Jordan, and each have their respective roles in huge marketing campaigns -- for Paul, it's State Farm, and for Griffin, it's Kia.
But shouldn't DeAndre Jordan start getting some love?
This says yes...
...And so do the numbers.
Chris Paul was just voted to his eighth consecutive All-Star game, and is often regarded as the prototypical NBA point guard. And he's having a great season. Nothing new. Paul's per-game numbers have been consistent throughout his three-plus years in L.A.
This year's no different. CP3 is averaging 17.7 points, 9.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals through 48 games this season. And he's only turning the ball over 2.2 times per game, shooting 39.5% from three -- his best since joining the Clippers. As a result, Paul is having yet another efficient season. His nERD of 15.7 is good enough for fourth in the league and first on his team.
But as efficient as he's been, Paul is struggling on the defensive end (for his standards). His defensive rating of 105 and his 1.9 steals per game are his worst marks since being traded to the Clips. However, with an offensive rating of 124, Paul has managed a net rating of 19. But is he the most valuable Clipper this season?
Blake Griffin was just voted to his fifth consecutive All-Star game and he's often considered one of the very best in the league at his position. And like Paul, Griffin is having a great season -- arguably the best of his career.
Griffin is putting up 22.8 points per game on 50% shooting while also pulling down 7.6 rebounds per contest. His rebounds per game and shooting percentage are both career lows. But Griffin has made up for those drops in other areas. He's dishing out five assists per game -- over an assist better than his previous high of 3.9 just a year ago.
He has become more of a playmaker for the Clippers and, like Paul, he has done so in an efficient manner. Griffin is 11th in the league in nERD with a score of 9.5. But with an offensive rating of 113 and a defensive rating of 106, Griffin has only managed a net rating of 7. So, how could he possibly be the most valuable player on the team?
DeAndre Jordan, in contrast to Paul and Griffin, was not voted to this year's All-Star game and is yet to have participated in the star-studded exhibition. But very much like his two superstar teammates, Jordan is having a great season -- the best season of his career, hands-down.
The Clipper center is rebounding at an elite level, ripping down 13.5 rebounds per game compared to last year's career high of 13.6 per outing. Though that number is lower, he's actually better this year, grabbing 14.5 rebounds per 36 minutes (0.5 more than a year ago). Just as he has improved in rebounding, Jordan has also seen improvement in his elite shot blocking, averaging 2.5 blocks per game. He did the same just a year ago, but has done so this year in 1.5 minutes less per game.
We all know Jordan is an elite rebounder and shot blocker, but he's been so much more for the Clippers in this year's campaign. He's contributing 10.1 points per game on a career high 73.1% from the field. If he continues at this pace, Jordan would shatter his previous high of 68.6%.
Jordan's efficiency from the field should come as no surprise. A career-best 58% of his field goal attempts are dunks and he is on pace to finish the year with 249 dunks -- also a career-high.
So, while Jordan is widely known for his defense, he has been doing it on both ends of the floor this year. With his efficient play on the offensive end, he's earned himself an offensive rating of 131. Yes, 131. That's 10 points better than his previous high. Due to his improvement, DJ has also earned 4.2 offensive win shares in 48 games thus far. If he continues at that pace, he would reach a total of 7.2 offensive win shares -- another personal best.
As for Jordan's natural place on the court, the defensive end (particularly near the rim), Jordan has continued his great play from a year ago. He's not only blocking shots, but he's also tallying a steal per game. His overall defensive effort has earned him a defensive rating of 99 and 3.0 defensive win shares to date. Those two numbers are slightly down from a year ago. Nonetheless, DJ's offensive improvement has more than made up for that.
DJ's net rating of 32 is 13 points better than Chris Paul and 25 (!) points better than Blake Griffin. His nERD of 13.2 is second (to Paul) on the team and sixth in the league. So while the All-Stars carry a much larger share of the scoring load, DJ is now doing his part on offense. That has helped the Clippers to a league-leading offensive rating of 113.5.
But the Clippers are 14th in the league with a defensive efficiency rating of 105.8. It could be worse though -- while Paul and Griffin have seen their defensive numbers decline from a year ago, Jordan has seen his go down just a point per 100 possessions. His 99 rating is the best on the team and is 6 points better than the next best starter -- Chris Paul. He's done nothing but help the Clippers struggling defense.
So maybe, just maybe, DeAndre Jordan has become the most valuable player on the Los Angeles Clippers. He's a big part of what they do on the offensive end of the court, and he is the heart and soul of Doc Rivers' defense. I know he won't be an All-Star this year, but shouldn't the big man start getting some love? He's earned it.