Since entering the NBA in 2008, DeAndre Jordan has been viewed as a gifted athlete with a high ceiling. This year he has taken his game to a whole new level and much of that has to do with the arrival of head coach Doc Rivers.
Rivers has given Jordan more responsibility than the Los Angeles Clippers previous head coach, Vinny Del Negro. In the previous seasons, Jordan would often be taken out of the game during crucial moments to avoid foul trouble. However, despite being terrible from the free throw line, Rivers has still stuck with Jordan in late game situations.
That trust has now helped Jordan transform into one of the league’s best centers. He is the only Clipper to have started every game this season. He’s also played in 237 consecutive regular season games, and that happens to be the longest active streak in the NBA.
This is Jordan’s first year as the defensive captain for the Clippers. It was a responsibility given to Jordan as soon as Rivers became the team’s head coach. Rivers wanted Jordan to be one of the three captains, alongside the dynamic Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Rivers essentially left the “big three” in Boston for a younger and more athletic “big three” in Los Angeles. Jordan has done a great job of embracing his new role as a leader on a star-studded team.
We always knew Griffin and Paul were great players, they’ve been all-stars for multiple seasons. But for Rivers to make the Clippers a championship team, he needed to help Jordan reach the next level and that’s exactly what has happened. The Clippers have become a much stronger team with Jordan anchoring their defense.
Before training camp started, Rivers expectations included Jordan winning two awards during the 2013 – 2014 NBA season. He wanted Jordan to win the defensive player of the year award and most improved player.
Under Doc Rivers’ new system, Jordan is beginning to blossom as a legitimate big man in the NBA. According to NBA.com, he is currently leading the league in field goal percentage (.674) and rebounding (13.8). He is also third in blocks (2.46) and he is contributing a career-high 10.4 points per game.
Earlier this season he had a streak of 22 consecutive games averaging at least 10 rebounds and one block. Jordan will probably end this season leading the NBA in both field goal percentage and rebounding. Only two other players have accomplished that milestone and those players are Dwight Howard and Wilt Chamberlain. I must say, he’s certainly made his case for defensive player of the year.