DeAndre Jordan is NOT the league’s best rim protector


Having been on the receiving end of an explosive offensive performance from the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens took time in the post game to offer praise to Clippers center and assumed Defensive Player of the Year candidate DeAndre Jordan.

“I don’t think there’s any question he’s the best rim protector around,” said Stevens.

As smart a head coach Brad Stevens is, he couldn’t be more wrong here.

Long gone are the days where measuring rim protection by feel was the go-to method. Thanks to advancements in analytics and game coverage, there are several ways to determine how well one actually defends the rim.

The most notable is’s usage of SportsVU, which tracks player movement throughout games. Introduced to the general public last season, one of the nine categories provided by SportsVU is “Defensive Impact”, which tracks protection around the rim.

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  • Per SportsVU, rim protection is defined as, “the defender being within five feet of the basket and within five feet of the offensive player attempting the shot,” and in comparison to his peers, DeAndre Jordan does NOT mark out as the best rim protector in the NBA.

    Ranked 12th in shots defended at the rim at 8.6 per game, opponents are shooting 48.7% when Jordan is “within five feet of the offensive player attempting the shot.”

    Of the players who defend at least seven shots at the rim per game and have appeared in 40 or more games this season, Jordan stands in the middle of the pact, with the likes of Gorgui Dieng (55.8%), Tyson Chandler (51.2%), Brook Lopez (50.1%), Jordan Hill (55.3%), and Al Jefferson (55.1%) having defended the rim worse than Jordan this season.

    Ahead of Jordan? The likes of Timofey Mozgov (47.0%), Tim Duncan (46.5%), Roy Hibbert (42.3), and the three league-best rim protectors (by this measure) in Rudy Gobert (39.4%), Andrew Bogut (40.5%) and Serge Ibaka (40.8%).

    Again, this is based off the SportsVU measure.

    Another useful and notable statistic that quantifies rim protection, this time from analytics-based blog site Nylon Calculus, is “Estimated Rim Protection Value”, a metric created by writer Seth Partnow. And as he did in SportsVU’s measure, Jordan appears nowhere near the top in Partnow’s metric.

    With the ruling to appear in Partnow’s metric being a minimum of 30 games played, 15 minutes per game averaged and four rim contests per-36 minutes, Jordan averages 0.16 points saved per-36 minutes or 39th overall in the category.

    Players in a similar range as Jordan in points saved per-36 minutes? Marcin Gortat (0.01), Bismack Biyombo (0.23), Tiago Splitter (-0.13), Kendrick Perkins (0.40), and Josh Smith (-0.14).

    Players far ahead of Jordan in points saved per-36 minutes? Derrick Favors (0.63), John Henson (2.15), Rudy Gobert (3.27), Nerlens Noel (2.02), and Robin Lopez (1.46).

    The most points saved per-36 minutes? Golden State’s Andrew Bogut with 3.69.

    With any measurable, putting complete faith into one method to determine the efforts of a player without context is , but what these two very reliable numbers show is that Jordan is far from being the league’s best rim protector.

    Don’t be mistaken. This isn’t a post to bash DeAndre Jordan’s abilities. Compared to the player seen two years ago, Jordan has improved by leaps and bounds, and rim protection stats are one way to pinpoint such. But for some reason, when discussing Jordan’s impact on the defensive end of the floor, patrons go out of their way instead of being honest and giving Jordan the credit he deserves. It’s just odd, especially with numbers that can help shape a bad opinion into a good one.

    For the Clippers sake, maybe this mythical “best rim protector/defender/Bill Russell impersonator in the league” version of DeAndre Jordan will appear in the playoffs like a wild Pokemon.