Even though the NBA seems to be moving away from the traditional center, DeAndre Jordan will still function as the anchor for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Jordan can’t shoot three-pointers–nor will he ever–but he is the team’s defensive lynchpin and one of the league’s best defenders. His presence in the paint is the focal point of the Clippers’ depth at the center position.
Head coach Doc Rivers will rely on Jordan to play substantial minutes in 2017-18, and not because of what the team lacks. Jordan is an imposing force at both ends of the floor. Although he struggles at the free-throw line, he converts a high number of his field-goal attempts. Jordan knows his game, and he doesn’t try to play outside of his role.
Jordan admittedly expects to fill a leadership role alongside teammate Blake Griffin. “It definitely starts with the core guys that we have, who have been here the longest, and obviously that’s [Blake] and I,” Jordan said during a preseason trip to Hawaii. “We’ve got to set the tone and set an example of how we’re going to do things on and off the floor for this organization.”
A season ago, Jordan averaged 12.7 PPG and 13.8 RPG. His ability to clean up on the glass makes him a perennial choice for one of the All-NBA teams at center. He also converted on 71.4 percent of his field goal attempts.
His offensive game should not see any slippage. International point guard Milos Teodosic, now in his first season in the NBA, is one of the world’s craftiest passers. That court vision will keep Jordan relevant around the rim, especially on alley-oop lobs.
Beyond Jordan, the Clippers have depth at the position. The front office went out and added free agent center Willie Reed, who enjoyed a career year with the Miami Heat in 2016-17. The year prior, Reed played sparingly with the Brooklyn Nets. An athletic presence, Reed can rebound the ball and provides a sizeable body in the paint–which will help on the defensive end.
The Clippers also brought in former New York Knick Marshall Plumlee to compete for backup center minutes. As it currently stands, Reed should receive the bulk of the playing time off Rivers’ bench.
In small-ball lineups, Rivers could also play Griffin at center. Griffin can play inside or outside, and he possesses the ability to knock down mid-range jump shots. Montrezl Harrell and Brice Johnson could also see spot minutes at the position in smaller rotations.
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