DeAndre Jordan must be big for Clippers
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
The day may come when Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan runs down the floor, turns back to see what point guard Chris Paul has in store, and hears one of the play calls that always make his eyes light up.
Floppy Five. Or, perhaps, its twin brother Turn Five. These are the plays he dreams of, the ones where the 25-year-old uber-athlete gets to show off his offensive skillset in ways typically reserved for the likes of Paul, fellow star Blake Griffin, super sub Jamal Crawford or one of the Clippers’ other many threats. But as new coach Doc Rivers & Co. embark on what should be a fascinating journey this season, this fork in the road they face between being a real title contender or perennial playoff failure, they’re finding hope in the fact that Jordan doesn’t seem to care whether his number is being called anymore. It is, they believe, a sign of the sort of maturity and mutual understanding that wasn’t here before.
“He’s been in double figures (in scoring) offensively every game, and we’ve yet to run a play for him,” Rivers told USA TODAY Sports before the Clippers played at Phoenix on Tuesday night. “In the past, (not having a play called for him) would have bothered him, and then that would have taken away from his real job. And now, you can see him not thinking about it.
“If he gets passed up, he gets passed up on offense and he just keeps playing defense. But I think it’s really fun and nice to see him enjoying that end and understanding the impact he has on our team.”
Jordan’s is a nuanced subplot to their collective tale, but one that’s as vital as any in this time when the need to upgrade this operation is so great. Rivers was a no-brainer improvement at the coaching spot, the former Boston Celtics coach taking the job previously held by Vinny Del Negro, who – regardless of fault – had seen Jordan’s spirit completely sapped while on his watch.
The lack of offensive involvement didn’t bother Jordan nearly as much … [For more on DeAndre Jordan needs to be big for L.A. Clippers, click here.]