While DeAndre Jordan is far from the player he once was with the Los Angeles Clippers during his best years, he still excels at many of the things that made him great him great. The most notable of those last season was his ability to finish around the rim, an area he still ranks among the elite in the league among big men.
While his days as a high-flyer capable of throwing down alley-oops from all distances and angles may be over, he still possesses enough athleticism, skill and IQ to finish at a high level in the paint. That makes his partnership with Russell Westbrook and LeBron James, two of the best facilitators in the league, ever the more intriguing.
Jordan spoke about playing alongside James and Westbrook and the impact they will have on each other's games while speaking during his introductory press conference.
“For me it’s great,” Jordan said. “Those guys being able to have such speed and strength being able to get downhill so quickly, it puts a lot of pressure on defenses. And when you’re a big playing in that dunker area and you kind of find where you’re going to be open, whether it’s a shovel pass or it’s a lob, and like I said, those guys are so good at finding the open man and making the defenses pay for coverages and schemes that they come up with is going to be great.
“I just need to be ready to catch the basketball or catch a lob... When you have that many threats on one team I think it’s going to be very beneficial for us.”
Despite an up-and-down season in Brooklyn last year, Jordan still shot 79.7% around the rim, ranking in the 96th percentile among bigs per Cleaning the Glass. That figure is the highest in his career by some margin. It’s no coincidence that came in a season in which he played alongside a trio of stars in James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Jordan’s role became more simplified offensively last season, leading to his increase in efficiency. He ranked in the 99th percentile in frequency of shots at the rim and tied for the highest percentage of his shots coming at the rim since 2014-15 at 93%. Similarly, 80% of his shots at the rim were assisted, another career-high mark.
Considering the proficiency of James and Westbrook, particularly the latter, in dump-off passes around the rim after drawing defenders, Jordan is primed for another big season when it comes to shooting efficiency. If he can continue to replicate his scoring around the rim, the Lakers will likely have exactly what they were looking for when signing the veteran big man.