Clippers: How DeAndre Jordan was a bright spot vs. Warriors

March 23, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) dunks the basketball against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
March 23, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) dunks the basketball against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

As DeAndre Jordan tallied 19 points and 20 rebounds, while showcasing his defensive prowess and slowly improving offensive game, he stood out as a bright spot in the Los Angeles Clippers’ loss to the Golden State Warriors.

DeAndre Jordan was frequently a force to be reckoned with on Wednesday night, imposing his will through aerial assaults and holding firm defensively, doing his best to lead his Los Angeles Clippers in a 114-98 loss. In a game where the Golden State Warriors’ Splash Brothers outscored the Clippers’ starting backcourt by 43 points, Jordan’s 19 points and 20 rebounds were desperately needed. And when he wasn’t praying for Stephen Curry‘s range as he air-balled a 15-foot jump shot, Jordan made an impact all over the court.

As he planted his feet towards the end of the first quarter, quickly moving over on a rotation to prevent Harrison Barnes from scoring an easy two points at the rim, Jordan made that presence known with ease.

With arms raised, Jordan laid down some simple defensive law, thwarting Barnes’ attempt before a quick scramble for the rebound ensued and Chris Paul secured the ball. Similar plays throughout the night by Jordan helped the Clippers tie with the Warriors for 44 points in the paint; the only statistic besides turnovers in which the Clippers bested the champs.

Jordan’s positioning in plays like this is exactly what his team needed, operating as necessary below the basket and impressively switching onto Curry if need be as well.

Jordan contest vs. Barnes gif
Jordan contest vs. Barnes gif /

The following sequence shows Jordan at his best, displaying how quickly he can turn defense into offense. Which, to the frustration of the Clippers, was exactly how the Warriors often capitalized to tear away for quick scores and increase their lead.

Once Jordan had patiently waited for Draymond Green‘s drive before forcing the ball into the backboard, he turned to scan the floor and quickly flung a two-handed pass down court straight into the open arms of Wesley Johnson for a dunk.

Jordan dunk and assist gif
Jordan dunk and assist gif /

When Jordan is at his best, playing with full intensity and reading an opposing offense, he excels as a help defender down low while having the speed to contest further away from the basket at times, too. It’s why he’s a reigning All-Defensive first team player, making an impact that goes far beyond his 14 rebounds per game.

And when he smothers opponents flying over from the weak side, chasing down what other teams hope to be easy baskets, he creates transition opportunities for the Clippers in ways that none of their other players can.

Along with his constant rebounding and threat as a pick-and-roll player, these kind of stops help him raise the team’s offensive rating by an exceptional margin of 13.9 points per 100 possessions whenever he’s on the floor.

That being said, he actually showed off some of his developing skill on offense, too. It’s important to emphasize that he’s at the earliest stages of establishing some kind of reliable post presence, but a strong hook shot over an All-Defensive second team center like Andrew Bogut — one of the best shot contenders in the game — is encouraging.

Jordan post hook vs Warriors gif
Jordan post hook vs Warriors gif /

We still don’t see these plays from Jordan too often. He shot (dunked) his way to go 7-of-10 from the floor against the Warriors, but hook shots or runners in the lane don’t come with much frequency. Although, when they do appear with this kind of soft touch and authority as he backed down Bogut, it’s promising for the Clippers if they want to maximize Jordan’s impact.

His free throw ability being maximized still looks like a lost cause, but that’s a head-scratching matter for another time.

Later in the second quarter, in typical DeAndre Jordan fashion, he threw down a ferocious alley-oop dunk past Bogut as he took flight from a couple of steps inside the free throw line.

Elevating higher and reaching further than any other center is just what DJ does, gifting us with jaw-dropping plays like this in the process.

As Jordan did his best, showing some confidence and touch on the offensive end alongside his characteristic power, he became the only Clippers player besides Chris Paul to record a positive plus-minus.

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That emphasizes how others struggled with weak shooting (Paul and J.J. Redick shot a combined 8-of-29) defensive lapses at the perimeter, and a lack of execution in the second half, but also indicates the impact that Jordan can have which is often amplified in the absence of Blake Griffin.

Despite all his flaws, Jordan is the Clippers’ anchor down low. From his defensive authority to the attention he requires on rolls to the basket, he changes the team’s success in the paint dramatically at both ends of the floor. It’s why they have a -5.5 net rating when he’s off the floor and lead by +7.4 with him, and Wednesday night was an example of everything he has to offer.

It’s also why Doc called him the most dominant player in the game, making a near 20-20 game light work against the NBA’s best team.

Next: Doc praises Clippers' energy despite loss to Warriors

Perhaps, with the smooth touch he showed with some drives and hook shots, he offered a little more insight into the ways he hopes to expand his skill set, too.