Clippers: It’s time for DeAndre Jordan to evolve offensively

Feb 22, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers (right) talks with Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (left) during a break in play against the Phoenix Suns during the first quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 22, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers (right) talks with Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (left) during a break in play against the Phoenix Suns during the first quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

DeAndre Jordan has shown flashes of improved offensive ability, and it’s time for him to develop as much as possible to help the Los Angeles Clippers’ pursuit of a championship.

The time when DeAndre Jordan is an elite, versatile scorer on the low-block will likely never come. The Los Angeles Clippers get that from Blake Griffin, and more so than his frontcourt partner, Jordan has continued to use his extraordinary athleticism to carry his offensive input with countless dunks. He plants his feet, he soars high above everyone else, and he throws down the ball with break-the-rim potential every single time.

But Jordan has started showing signs of offensive development, and while he’s in the prehistoric stages of this evolution, it’s necessary that it continues.

Perhaps if Jordan can reach the stage where he can be utilized for a couple of post scores each game, the Clippers’ already elite offense can have yet another dynamic (even if it’s a minor and infrequent one). Currently, Jordan is averaging 6.4 field goal attempts per game, 51.9 percent of which are dunks, to average a career-high 12.2 points per game.

That production is respectable for someone who primarily gains points from put-backs and pick-and-roll oops, and he could easily hit 14 points per game if he could make free throws at a remotely average rate.

That’s another painful matter that we won’t get into here, though. Instead, let’s take a look at a few offensive plays that Jordan has put together lately that are starting to show some promise to his potential development.

Again, it needs to be emphasized that he’s in the incredibly early stages of becoming any kind of threat in the post. That being said, he’s shown improved ability to create off the dribble, use a soft touch near the rim when he isn’t dunking, hit the odd hook shot on the low-block or running hook into the lane. Jordan has at least shown that it’s certainly in the realm of possibility that he can finally become a player who could create 16 points per game if he can fine-tune a few moves.

First, a drive from just a few inches inside the three-point line against the lanky, 7″1′ center Alex Len of the Phoenix Suns. No, a player slowly lowering their shoulders and driving to sink a layup isn’t incredibly impressive. But for someone like Jordan, it’s good to see him use his physicality to hold off a player and drive, before finishing gently with his other hand.

The very instance of him creating a shot for himself is a rare sight and one that will be greatly appreciated by his teammates.

DJ drive
DJ drive /

Next, another solid move on the block, as Jordan put his back to the basket to convert a soft hook shot. If he gets to the point where he can confidently dribble and back down opponents, and finish gently rather than just hoping to take flight for a dunk, maybe the Clippers can drop the ball to the post for both Jordan and Griffin.

DJ hook vs Suns
DJ hook vs Suns /

When looking back at games from recent weeks, Jordan has completed his shots in similar fashion by reducing his distance to the basket as much as possible; he simply doesn’t have the range to step back and take a 10 footer.

Against another respectable shot blocker in Pau Gasol, Jordan backed towards the paint, span past, and found enough room to get off the shot. Even though Gasol doesn’t have the best lateral quickness to compete with an athlete on Jordan’s level, there’s still a level of comfort in this play that’s promising.

DJ spin hook vs Bulls
DJ spin hook vs Bulls /

For the final play of Jordan’s 17-point night against the Suns, here’s a driving hook shot as he ran over into the lane, using his length and elevation to finish over the outreached arms of Len. Again, it’s not going to happen all the time, yet, the more Jordan can create something for himself, it not only changes the way defenses cover him but it clears some attention from Griffin and guards on the perimeter.

If opponents anticipate Jordan looking to score, they won’t solely focus on shooters as they patiently wait for him to give up the ball.

DJ driving hook vs Suns
DJ driving hook vs Suns /

Ideally, in Griffin’s continued absence, Jordan may take it upon himself to expand his minimal post game. The odd hook shot, taking slower centers off the dribble or backing down to the basket to test his defender; it doesn’t have to be much. While his defense, rebounding and poster dunks are always going to be the staple of his game, the more he can do for the Clippers’ offense the better.

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Especially against the Suns, Jordan showed that he can finish strong with his right hand when he isn’t dunking. Even though it needs a lot of work, he does have the initial ability and length to create shots over the top of his physically inferior opponents.

With his right hand, he’s starting to do that. He still continues his career as a relatively ambidextrous player, though.

To the dismay of J.J. Redick, who knows how Jordan can finish with his right hand, the hideous free throws are still coming courtesy of DJ’s persistent left hand (per Dan Woike of the Orange County Register):

"After the game, J.J. Redick, maybe jokingly and maybe seriously, said for the past two seasons he has told Jordan to shoot free throws with his right hand.“He jumps off his left foot, which is how most right-handed people jump,” Redick said. “Their left foot is their dominant foot. He shoots every single jump hook, and tonight, running hook, with his right hand. He finishes around the basket with his right hand. He’s really good at it.”"

Jordan commented on the matter of his offensive game too, saying that his forte is still looking for teammates cutting to the basket:

"“I feel like the guys are more confident in me to make a play for somebody else or whenever I have a shot I feel like I can make, I’ll take that one. Most of the time, I’m looking for cutters, things like that,” Jordan said. “But, I’m getting more and more comfortable.”"

Confidence and practice is all Jordan needs. A lot of the latter is necessary, but still, there’s no reason he can’t add one or two moves to his small offensive arsenal. It’s late coming, now that Jordan is in his eighth year and he’s an awful long way from being a reliable or polished player in the post, let alone a go-to option.

However, it’s never too late to add to your game.

Next: Clippers need to choose: Doc the GM or Doc the coach?

If Jordan can evolve offensively, there’s no better time than now as the Clippers hope to finally pass the second round with all the help they can get.