Does DeAndre Jordan Need to Be More Involved in the Clippers' Offense?
Last summer during the DeAndre Jordan saga, there were many memorable moments.
However, the substance of the "Jordan to the Mavs and back to the Clippers" ordeal was a very real issue.
Jordan has always been the third wheel in Los Angeles behind Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, and even though his contributions to the team are second to none, he has never really been involved in the offense.
If it weren’t for Paul lobbing him passes at the rim, Jordan would almost never touch the ball on offense. After he spurned the Mavs to go back to the Clippers, Jordan was promised that he would be more involved in the Clippers’ offense, but as we approach the halfway point of the NBA season, Jordan really hasn’t been more involved at all.
His Usage Rate this season has gone up only slightly from last season to 14.1 from 13.6, and even though it’s above his career average of 13.3, his Usage Rate this season is also nearly the lowest of any member of the Clippers’ rotation. Only Luc Mbah a Moute and Pablo Prigioni have lower rates than Jordan does this season.
Jordan is head-and-shoulders above anyone else in the league this season in field goal percentage, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that nine out of every 10 shots he takes is within three feet of the basket. He is also on pace to lead the league in field goal percentage and Effective Field Goal Percentage for the fourth year in a row.
Another improvement he has seen over the last three seasons has been his Offensive Rating, which is at 124 right now and was 126 last season. However, even though his advanced numbers are still very good, he has seen fewer shot attempts per game at 9.1 this season compared to 9.6 last year.
Even with Griffin missing the Clippers’ last eight games, Jordan’s Usage Rate has not increased that much. According to NBAWowy, Jordan has a Usage Rate of 17.8 when Griffin is off the court compared to 14.4 when the two are on the court together.
Does Jordan Really Need More Touches?
Taking a look at some of the advanced player index stats from NBA.com, the short answer to the question of whether Jordan needs more looks on offense is yes.
For instance, Jordan is used on only 14 percent of the Clippers' pick and rolls this season, but despite the low amount of opportunities he has to roll to the rim, Jordan leads the NBA in points per possession on pick and rolls among players who have at least 30 pick-and-roll possessions at 1.35.
He also has a field goal percentage of 76.2 percent on pick-and-roll plays, and he scores on three out of every four rolls to the basket, which also leads the league. The next closest scoring frequency of a player rolling to the basket is Tristan Thompson at 67.3 percent.
If you look at Griffin’s numbers off the pick and roll this season compared to Jordan’s, he is averaging only 0.9 points per possession when rolling to the basket, and his field goal percentage on those plays is only 45 percent.
Despite Jordan being the far superior pick-and-roll player for the Clippers, Griffin still sees nearly 21 percent of his team's pick and roll opportunities, and he has 148 possessions on pick and rolls this season in eight fewer games compared to 57 for Jordan.
Jordan also has about the same amount of success posting up this season as Griffin does, according to NBA.com.
Griffin averages 0.86 points per possession on post-ups this year with a field goal percentage of only 43 percent, compared to Jordan who has a better field goal percentage than Griffin on post-ups this season at 47.4 percent. Jordan's points per possession on post-ups (0.85) is close to Griffin's mark.
Despite these numbers, Jordan has had only 19 post-up opportunities in 38 games. Griffin has 118 through only 30 games.
Doc Rivers could have his reasons for limiting the amount of post-ups Jordan has this season. His poor free throw shooting could be chief among them, but with his success rate on pick and rolls this year compared to Griffin's, Jordan needs to be setting screens for Paul at the top of the key more often.
Obviously, Jordan does most of his work on offense on putbacks, as he is ninth in the league currently in points on putbacks this season, but the Clippers need to try and get him more involved on offense.
While it’s hard to argue with L.A.’s success on offense this season when their Offensive Rating is fifth best in the league at 107.6, with Jordan’s athleticism and size, the Clippers might benefit from having him set some more screens for Paul in the pick and roll, and maybe even letting him touch the ball in the post more than once every other game.