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Where in the world is DeAndre Jordan?

May 12, 2012, 9:04 AM EDT

Clippers' Jordan reacts during Game 6 of their NBA Western Conference basketball playoff series against Grizzlies in Los Angeles Reuters

Last summer, the Golden State Warriors were looking for a big man to put next to David Lee and forced the Clippers hand — would the Clippers match a four year, $48.2 million contract offer for DeAndre Jordan? How badly did the Clippers want to keep Jordan next to Blake Griffin?

Badly enough to match the cash.

Except now in the playoffs when the the game was on the line Jordan isn’t next to Griffin. He’s sitting. Jordan played no minutes in the fourth quarter of Game 6. It was the same in the fourth quarter and overtime of Game 5. Despite being up against a team with one of the biggest front lines in the Association, Jordan sits and veteran Reggie Evans gets the run.

The energy he brings and the spotlight of the playoffs has turned Evans into a cult hero among Clippers fans. They were chanting his name in the fourth quarter Friday night.

By contrast, Jordan seems a ghost.

He had 7 points and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes of play in Game 6. Outside of finishing a crowd-igniting dunk off a Blake Griffin hustle play in the third quarter it’s hard to think of how Jordan impacted the game. It’s easy to think of how Evans did, for better and worse.

For the series Jordan is averaging 4.2 points and 4.3 rebounds a game. Chris Paul is out rebounding Jordan. His PER dropped from an above average 16.4 in the season to 10.4 in the playoffs — the kind of number that has you sitting on the bench late. He talked about it to the L.A. Times.

“I’m just not playing well,” Jordan said. “I’m just not getting the job done. It isn’t like I’m not trying. I know I have to do a better job. I’m trying.”

Coach Vinny Del Negro covers for him — “I just thought Reggie was playing well” — but the holes in Jordan’s game are too big at this point in the playoffs. His inconsistent offense (unless he gets dunks), and leaving his defensive and rebounding responsibilities to chase blocks are the kind of things that just can’t happen in the playoffs. Del Negro said Jordan needs to just be physical and get leverage against the big Memphis front line if he wants to stay on the court more. He’s not banging with Memphis

This is not to knock Jordan (well, completely), he’s 23, in his fourth NBA season and first playoffs. There is a whole lot of room for growth from these experiences. If he works at it the lessons learned here he could have a big role in the Clippers playoff run next year.

Rather, this is a cautionary parable about team building. The Clippers paid a steep price to keep Jordan and they will have him for a couple more years at least. In the run up to this season it seemed keeping Jordan as part of the core of this team was, if not the right move, a defensable move. But it’s hard to predict how a player will develop (or will not develop, particularly off an odd lockout summer). And the playoffs are not about teaching moments.

This summer will tell the tale with Jordan when he returns. The Clippers are taking steps forward with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. We’ll see if Jordan can take the steps needed along with them.

  1. thestudiokida - May 12, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    I’ve been disappointed with DJ too. I saw a stat that I find difficult to believe; it said something like DJ has made 432 out of 438 shots in the paint over the last two seasons. Translation: he only dunks in the paint and he makes every single one. I looked up his stats and it shocked me that he has been shooting about 65% overall. Shouldn’t he shoot in the 80th percentile with those paint stats?

    Turns out he’s made about 6 of 229 attempts outside of the paint. How is that possible? Why has he attempted so many outside when he’s so clearly dominant inside the paint? This statistic continues to confound me. Anyways if the Clips are smart they’ll try to move him and picks for Dwight Howard. Selling price should be low for D12

    • grizzfan - May 12, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      As for the price for D12 it wont be that low. Also its not guarenteed that Chris Paul will resign with the clips

      • thestudiokida - May 12, 2012 at 10:02 AM

        If it meant Paul would come back I’d give up Griffin for Dwight Howard. Great point guard is hard to come by… and Blake definitely seems to have a Shawn Kemp type ceiling in the NBA. I hope he proves me wrong.

  2. cakemixa - May 12, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    To quote Charles Barkley: “If you left DeAndre Jordan in the gym all night and told him he couldn’t dunk he’d have 6 points in the morning.”

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      Although I hate Barkley, I heard him when he made that snide remark (it was off to the side, which I loved), because it’s true. I dunno why anyone expects anything offensively from this dude. He’s just a hustle player and happens to be big, no homo.

  3. oside760 - May 12, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    my buddy texted me last night during the game, and he’s not the most knowledgeable fan, and he asked me why deandre wasn’t playing and i told him straight up, “its cuz hes a pu$$y”

  4. londonaiooo - May 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Shaun Kemp was pretty good dude, he wasn’t all flash. Blake would be lucky to be as good one day as the pre drug rain man!

  5. 00maltliquor - May 12, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    I can’t believe your asking this question. DJ is who he is. No more no less. He is a good player to have, but that ridiculous contract he got puts him in the spotlight. He’s doing what he has always done. Not much. But some highlight dunks and blocks. Being all surprised about just tells me you don’t watch much basketball. Get NBA TV man, it’ll save your life, and your career. Lord knows how you boosted up Nene as the premier FA last year solely off of perception.

    • 00maltliquor - May 12, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      *NBA league pass.

      (Unless your that bad of a talent evaluator then don’t waste your money…)

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