DEANDRE JORDAN AS THOR
If you look at the Avengers as an NBA team, you see that they are stocked with first round draft picks like Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Bruce Banner. But, there is one member who was a late edition to the team: Thor, a second round pick, so to speak. The God of Thunder was a bit of a wild card for them. He had phenomenal strength and incredible potential, but to his teammates he was an enigma. Just how good was this guy, and could he really be counted on to contribute at times he was needed the most? At the end of The Avengers, Thor proved that he was more than capable of holding his own. He showed that he was not a reserve, but a starter with All-Star abilities. And, when you look at the Clippers roster, one player shares the same traits and path to success as Thor: DeAndre Jordan. Here’s why:
DRAFTED INTO THE LEAGUE
Of all the Avengers, Thor was the only one not of Earth. He hailed from the distant world of Asgard, and his arrival to the team was unexpected and surprising to the other members. S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t even expecting to draft Thor into the group initially. Despite the fact that his brother, Loki, was the team’s main foe, S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) director Nick Fury told his superiors that Thor was, “[…] worlds away. We can’t depend on him to help.”
Simply put, Thor was not high on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s draft board. The agency had spent years looking to draft more well known players for the Avengers team, ones they had scouting reports on. They knew Steve Rogers’ Captain America was a natural born leader and a clear-cut choice to be their number one overall pick. They knew of Tony Stark’s Iron Man, and that his off the field issues never affected his performance on the field, despite the fact that they were initially hesitant to draft him for the Avengers. They also knew that Bruce Banner’s Hulk was a raw talent with massive anger issues who had problems working with others, but his ability to dominate a game was well worth the risk.
Thor was more of an unknown. Aside from some brief game footage of him taking out a Destroyer in the New Mexico desert, there was not much to go on. He had enormous potential, but there was also reason to believe he could be a bust. His addition to the group was welcomed, but again, the team didn’t know what kind of player he was until he was thrust into the starting lineup at the end of The Avengers.
DeAndre Jordan’s arrival to the Clippers was much the same as Thor’s to the Avengers. In his one year at Texas A&M, Jordan averaged 7.9 points but shot only 43.7% from the free throw line. Heading into the 2008 NBA Draft, DraftExpress said Jordan was a “freakish athlete” with “incredible upside,” but had “high bust potential." When listing his weaknesses, they stated he was “not ready to contribute immediately” and was “not productive enough.” The uncertainty surrounding Jordan’s ability to produce at the NBA level likely scared away many teams on draft night, explaining why he ended up falling to the Clippers in the second round. The Clippers knew that they got a guy with tremendous potential and would have to wait and see whether their decision to draft Jordan would pay off. Fortunately, they would not have to wait long.
About midway through the 2008-2009 season, Jordan’s rookie year, injuries to then-Clippers big men Chris Kaman, Zach Randolph, and Marcus Camby, thrust Jordan into the starting lineup on January 19, 2009 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he immediately showed what he could do. Jordan recorded 10 rebounds and 6 blocks, and followed up that game two days later by scoring a career-high 23 points against the Lakers. After the game, then-Lakers center Andrew Bynum said of his battle inside with Jordan: “I don't think I picked on him. I think he was picking on us, the way he was dunking the ball out there.” Four days after his stellar performance against the Lakers, and in just his fourth career start, Jordan set another career high by grabbing 20 rebounds against the Golden State Warriors. In less than a week, the second round pick and oft-used reserve proved to everyone in the league that he was a legitimate starter. And, he would soon prove that he could impact the game on both ends of the floor, using the basketball as his weapon.
BRINGING THE THUNDER
Like Captain America with his vibranium shield, Thor is perhaps most well known for his infamous hammer, Mjolnir (pronounced: MEE-YOLL-NER). Among the hammer’s many powers is its ability to summon the elements of a storm—whether it be lightning, rain, or thunder—whenever Thor slams it to the ground.
It’s no surprise then that Jordan’s Mjolnir is the basketball. As ordinary as the ball may be in the hands of other players, Jordan seems to have a way of summoning his own storm whenever he gets the ball above the rim. His dunks are so ferocious that you would swear a thundercloud exploded inside the arena. Not only that, but his dunks have the ability of sending the Staples Center crowd into a thunderous roar every time he slams one home.
Moreover, Jordan has shown that he can use the basketball for defensive purposes, too. Over the past two seasons he has ranked among the top 10 in the NBA in blocked shots per game, finishing last season ranked fourth in the league with an average of 2.05. And, he’s again ranked in the top 10 so far this year. Jordan’s begun to establish himself as the premier defensive force inside the paint for the Clippers, and in last Saturday’s 101-80 victory against the Chicago Bulls, he recorded a season high seven blocks. He is showing that he can be a dual threat by impacting the game on both ends of the floor.
Although Thor and Jordan were both second round picks, they both proved that their will to win and ability to compete made them indispensible to their teams. Thor showed the Avengers that he could stand his ground and defend his turf by delivering devastating and thunderous blasts against opponents, while Jordan has continued to show that he is a force to be reckoned with in this league with his thunderous dunks and dominant defense. As the Clippers continue to establish themselves as a contender in the Western Conference, you can be certain that Jordan will continue to bring the thunder night in and night out.
Coming Soon: Clippers guard Chauncey Billups as Iron Man.
Colin J. Liotta is the co-founder of the website The Sports Hero along with his wife, Bushra, and acts as the Editor-in-Chief. The website combines sports and comics into one place for fans of both genres. See more of Colin's work at www.thesportshero.com