JORDAN CONTINUES MAKING MARK DEFENSIVELY
PLAYA VISTA – Out of his five starts this preseason, Saturday night was the only time DeAndre Jordan had a limited impact on the game.
It was hardly Jordan’s fault. He was plagued by foul trouble for most of the night, with three coming on the offensive end, and was forced out of the game with his sixth foul at the 8:30 mark of the fourth quarter.
Still, he finished with nine points, seven rebounds and a single block in 21 minutes. He has 20 blocked shots in five games. He is leading the team in rebounds at 7.8 per game and is averaging double digits in scoring.
“He’s been dominant,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said Monday when asked to assess Jordan’s defensive presence thus far. “He’s been exactly who we want him to be.”
Who the Clippers want Jordan to be is a menacing force defensively. The kind of guy who not just blocks shots and plays a physical brand of defense, but is constantly talking and making his presence felt.
“I feel like I’m setting the tone for our defense and what we want to do,” Jordan said. “Not only blocking shots, but voicing what we want to do from my position on the court.”
Rivers has talked about the process of adding new elements to the defense and has said the team is ahead of where he thought they’d be at this point. The person he cited more than anyone was Jordan. The sixth-year center has been a sponge, according Rivers.
Blake Griffin said the biggest realization for his 25-year-old teammate and friend is that he can impact a game solely as a defender.
“He’s blocking shots and altering shots and making it tough defensively,” Griffin said. “That’s what he does and that’s what he does best and that’s what we need him to do. It doesn’t matter what kind of game offensively he’s having he can still have a huge impact on the game defensively.”
For Jordan, who is entering his sixth season with the Clippers, emerging as a defensive stalwart was a primary goal since last season ended. He came into camp off a summer of workouts and a four-day minicamp with Team USA. It set the tone for where he is now and was only aided by the presence of Rivers.
Asked about how he felt when Rivers called him a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Jordan said, “It was definitely something that made a light go off. I know he’s a defensive coach and I want to become a great defensive player and with his help I can.
“There’s still a lot of work I have to do, we all have to do,” he added. “But [Rivers is] definitely putting the confidence in, not only me, but the rest of our team, that we can do some great things here.”