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This is what Clippers need from DeAndre Jordan (VIDEO)

Oct 8, 2013, 10:03 AM EDT

We’ve talked about this at length at PBT and we haven’t even gotten to the Clippers season preview (patience, next week) — DeAndre Jordan is at the heart of the Clippers chances to really contend this season. That team is going to have one of the best (my guess is THE best) offense in the NBA but can they get stops?

Jordan has to be at the heart of a revised defense and he was his athletic self on Monday night with four blocks, which included this fantastic combination (he finished with 16 points and 8 boards in 21 minutes). Jordan’s athleticism is on display (and that has never been in question, the only center as athletic in the league is JaVale McGee). More importantly he made the right defensive plays.

Will the more consistent structure of a Doc Rivers defense be what Jordan needs to break out? (Last year under Vinny Del Negro the Clippers threw a lot of different looks at teams but were really the jack of all trades but masters of none.) The Clippers hope so. Don’t read too much into preseason but Monday was a nice first step.

  1. leearmon - Oct 8, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    Yeah, what the Clippers need most in order to reach their (others) championship expectations isn’t for there top paid player (Chris Paul) to get better on defense (or even good after last year) or stop increasing his TO% to a ridiculous level in 4th quarters. Or their second highest paid player (Blake Griffin) to actually develop some type of well rounded offensive game, or defensive game, or even rebound well for that matter….

    Nope, what the Clippers REALLY need for them to really achieve their championship goals, is DeAndre Jordan to step up….

    Are you serious?

    • Kurt Helin - Oct 9, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      If you don’t think CP3 can defend or Blake Griffin hasn’t rounded out his game the past couple years, I suggest you watch some Clippers games.

      • leearmon - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:13 PM

        I know you, as other writers on this site, are either new- or just don’t believe in advanced metrics. But i suggest you really start to dive in. The narrative that national writers, such as yourself, have that guys like Kobe and Chris Paul are elite defenders is comical at best. If you dont want to do the research yourself, just read Zach Lowe. He was really one of the first of your elk to really shine the light on CP3′s lack of defense. The fact that you are the lead writer / editor on a site like this and don’t know, or haven’t bothered to research says a lot. And Blake “rounding out his game” What exactly does that mean? Does he rebound well? Does he pass well? How about free throw shooting? Ummm did you watch the playoffs, he and his 16.3 PER??? Move over Chris Rock, Kurt Helin is coming for your title of funniest man in America!

      • Kurt Helin - Oct 11, 2013 at 7:34 PM

        You really don’t know much about me — I am an advanced stats guy. Read Basketball on Paper back in 2005, talk to stats guys around the league, have been to SLOAN conference, I could go on and on but what is the point, you have decided you know me and my “ilk.” I look at advanced stats before traditional ones most of the time. My job here is to take those stats and make the knowledge gained from them useful to a mass audience, not to create a niche. Zach does that well (he and I are friends from back in the day he ran a Celtics blog and I a Lakers one, FB&G), but this is a different format and style. He has space to explore those issues that I do not.

        The Clipper defense was better when CP3 was on the bench last season, but to suggest he was the lone factor is not to have really watched the games. Paul generates steals but he has positional issues that require a better backline than he has had to cover them. You don’t think Griffin’s game needs rounding? If you read me consistently you’d know I have long praised Griffin’s passing out of the post, how much better his handles have gotten, even his midrange is better. But his jumper is not there yet and more importantly to the Clippers his defensive recognition and rotations have to be better.

        I could go on and on here, but again, you know who I am and have decided about me what you will, so what’s the point?

    • Kurt Helin - Oct 11, 2013 at 7:46 PM

      Two other things. If you bother to read this site you’d know we do use some advanced stats regularly — stuff off Synergy, points per possession, TS% — but stuff that fits with making that work for a mass audience.

      Finally, if you really don’t think Jordan is key to the Clippers defense this year, I wonder about your understanding of how defense works in the modern basketball era with help rotations to aid players who can’t touch penetrators on the perimeter.

  2. jimsjam33 - Oct 8, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    I see where Jordan made 4 out of 5 free three attempts last night . If he can shoot at 70 per cent for the season , rebound , play defense , and score 10 points a game this season the Clippers win a trophy presented by Adam Silver .

  3. surfoside4life - Oct 8, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    lob city is dead my ass

  4. leearmon - Oct 12, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    A few things. I too frequent the Sloan conference and have been for a few years now. I look forward to seeing more detailed exploratory articles on the evolution of the game, and its stats. You talk about not having the “space” on this site to explore different topics in regards to advanced stats, yet you have the “space” for such thought provoking pieces such as Dwight Howard hearing “boos” and “Kobe” while in the Philippines. Or the sure to be award winning article of Reggie Evans bringing the beard back. Might I suggest you may have more “space” than you think.

    Back to my point, I did not “suggest” that the Clippers defensive woes were only due to Chris Paul. I simply stated that CP3 was not a good defender last year. I stand by that. If you see any Synergy stats or any other significant stat to suggest otherwise please site one. Oh and I do not mean steals. Gilbert Arenas frequently was among the league’s best in steals, yet was one of the worst perimeter defenders of the league. So I don’t know why you would even bring steals into the conversation.

    Now to your point – If you believe DeAndre Jordan’s defense is key for the Clippers this season we clearly are looking at the game from two completely different ends of the spectrum. As I’ve already stated, he plays with poor defensive wings, and a front court mate who too is poor on defense.

    So too does Tyson Chandler. Imagine suggesting that the key to Knicks defense is Tyson Chandler playing better on d. He plays with some poor wing defenders (Shump, Prigs and Artest not included) and more times than not will have a poor defensive frontcourt mate.

    Or last season saying Asik is the reason for Houston’s defensive issues. Or Larry Sanders for the Bucks. Or Drummond for the Pistons. I could go on.

    See there are plenty of bigs who have a poor wing defender (Chris Paul) and play beside an awful defensive front court mate (Blake Griffin) The narrative of having the Center as the most vital part of a team’s defense is a bit tired. Marc Gasol is obviously a tremendous defender, but it helps to have Tony Allen, Mike Conley and Prince playing hard on the wings making his job easier.

    Or Joakim Noah, another great defensive big. Yet he plays with great defenders, in Deng, Butler Gibson etc. Same with Hibbert. Stevenson, George and West make his job easier.

    So if you were to re-read my initial post, I believe I made it quite clear, the notion that DeAndre Jordan’s improved play is “key” for the Clips is a joke. Paul and Griffin are the highest paid players on that team and have clear holes in their games. To deflect the criticism off of them and on to Jordan is weak, and IMHO misguided. I would argue if Paul and Griffin improved their defense the Clippers defense as a whole would improve far more than if it were just Jordan who stepped his game up.

  5. leearmon - Oct 12, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    Oh and P.S. Blake Griffin may have improved his offense, probably because he’s playing with Chris Paul. But to see how he started there really was no where else to go. But let’s not act as if he’s setting the world on fire. Again he’s not a great passer. He finishes great at the rim, so there’s no arguing that. But so too does Dwight Howard. To suggest that Blake Griffin is a well rounded offensive player, again is a joke. Sorry.

    • leearmon - Oct 13, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      Final post, because I know you’re busy. Plus Im not even sure any of my posts will ever see the light of day. But I know you’re probably getting set for your national talkbacks with the Comcast affiliates once the season begins. I look forward to finally getting the chance to chat with you about this topic and others.

    • Kurt Helin - Oct 14, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      If you don’t think Griffin is a good passer, or hasn’t improved his handles or midrange and defense, you should watch him play again. Multiple games, not just Sportscenter highlights.

      • leearmon - Oct 14, 2013 at 7:05 PM

        Interesting, no stats to support your claims that Chris Paul was a good defender last year? Also completely ignore the points about Asik, Chandler etc in regards to the initial point about DeAndre Jordan being “key” for the Clippers. Hmmm- and again, instead of trying to snipe at me, if you were to actually, I don’t know READ posts, there’s a huge difference between improving, and actually being good, well rounded. Has Blake Griffin improved his “handles” or dribbling as most people call it? Sure. Has he improved as a passer? No doubt. But that’s completely different than saying someone is “good” at it.

        John Wall has improved his shooting, but Im not sure anyone is ready to say he’s good at it. Statistically David Lee has improved as a defender, but do you think he’s good at it?

        Some may say you have “improved” at responding to certain points, though not necessarily being “good” at it.

        See what I did there???

      • Kurt Helin - Oct 14, 2013 at 9:09 PM

        Applying last year’s defensive numbers to this Clipper defense with a new system would be dubious at best, especially in regards to Jordan (Vinny liked to throw a variety of looks at teams but the Clips were the jack of all trades, masters of none). I will grant you that the Clippers defense was 6 per 100 better when Jordan was off the court last season, but Doc Rivers himself has said Jordan will be the focus of their defense this season, playing the KG role as the quarterback and rim protector (as they switch the the overload/Thibs style D). If you don’t want to take the coach’s word for it, Jordan being key is what the scouts I spoke to about the Clippers said this summer after the hiring and moves. I generally speak to those guys on background, not to quote, but you can go find Chris Mannix of SI (twitter feed) who got three scouts to tell him the same thing. This isn’t something I am promoting as my agenda, it’s what the team and scouts are saying — Jordan is the big key for the Clips defense.

        CP3 gambles and takes some risks on defense — he gets 2.6 steals per 36 but can get caught doing that, which hurts far more if he’s not backstopped. Which comes to Jordan. I see CP3′s defense like I did Magic Johnson’s — he can be beat one-on-one but is a generally smart in the team concept. The thing is, those team numbers are not good with the Clippers because their team starters struggled with consistency at that end.

        As for your earlier post about this blog: This is simply not a site that does 2,000 word analytic breakdowns and that is by design. I was hired to execute a Florio-style model but with twists we had discussed, but when I started this site we ran some longer stuff and I was reminded that is not the model. The posts are what people are talking about, and while we do use some stats and try to bring a different perspective to things, the style here is the style. If you do not enjoy it, you don’t have to read it.

        This discussion has grown tedious. You choose not to listen to my points while I grant you some of yours. You sound like a congressman.

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