Home > Shook Ankles > Essay: Monetizing DeAndre Jordan

Essay: Monetizing DeAndre Jordan

He’s the big guy, running up and down the court with undeserved grace (given his 6’11″-7’1″ frame), jumping so high to block shots he’s catching them between his wrist and elbow, defying natural odds by influencing the game in only one dimension. This is DeAndre Jordan. A coveted free agent whose wings were clipped by a transaction suffocating lockout. A southpaw who spent last season making Blake Griffin look good on defense while getting overshadowed on the glory side of the ball despite his own brand of trapeze-esque highlight reel worthy dunks. He’s a 23-year-old, three-year veteran who before last season was floating his way through the league with no noticeable attribute apart from being gigantic. 

Now? Getting floaters by him is like throwing darts through a pin wheel…during a hurricane. Thanks to that, his age, and relative efficiency on offense (last year he shot 69% from the field), Jordan’s career arc is beginning to model itself after Tyson Chandler instead of Eddy Curry, and what will certainly follow is multi-million dollar contract offers. He’ll never be the center of an offense or the undivided focus of any one’s defensive game plan, but in a few years Jordan will have to be accounted for. He’s masterful at positioning himself correctly for advantageous tip ins and calamitous put backs that make rims thankful they’re inanimate objects, but that skill can only go so far, and it’s likely to plateau as he ventures further into what’s all of a sudden looking like a bright career.

What Jordan can still work on is his shot. And by work on, I mean create from nothing. Jordan didn’t attempt a single jumper last season from 10-15 feet and mostly hung out around the basket. He’s one of the worst free throw shooters in basketball, which could easily send him to the bench should a “Lets-Smack-DeAndre” coaching strategy be employed by the opposition down the stretch in close games. On the other hand, his defensive presence is greatly needed, so whoever has the pleasure of coaching him for the next few years could always make offense for defense substitutions when the time is right.

If Jordan never develops any range, it’s perfectly fine (as long as he’s complemented by a stretch four) and the most logical next step for him would be to build upon what he’s already really good at: Defense. He’s athletically all there but mentally he needs to fix a few things–namely fouling people and falling for up fakes in one on one situations. Also, Jordan, along with McGee and Howard, has the tools to retroactively turn the blocked shot into a useful tool: a pass or a steal. The age of macho, self-centered, egomaniacal basketball has come and gone. It’s now time for guys to realize that when they hit the basketball out of bounds, it does nothing but effectively call a quick time out for the offense, allowing them to regroup and dial up an inbounds play. A block in basketball should be utilized strategically to kick start an offense and get the ball zooming in the other direction. Jordan can make this happen.

Jordan’s realistic upside is unparalleled (minus a few guys) when comparing him to almost every other big man in the game. Last season, in his first opportunity to compete as a full-time starter, he ranked in the top 10 league wide in several useful categories: blocks (8th in the league, 142 total), block percentage (5th, 5.4%), blocks per game (10th, 1.8), and offensive rebounding percentage (8th, 11.9). In the 27 games he logged more than 30 minutes, Jordan averaged just over a double-double. By quick comparison, a 22-year-old Dwight Howard had a 10.9 offensive rebounding percentage, 4.2% block percentage, 2.1 blocks per game, and 176 blocks (in over 1,000 more minutes played). Not proclaiming Jordan is the next Dwight Howard or will ever produce at a supreme superstar level, just merely comparing him to the golden standard.

Almost every team in the league could use someone like DeAndre Jordan in their lineup, but not every situation would snugly fit with a player who still has so much good to absorb and so much time to evolve. For example, if a team like the Pistons said to themselves “DeAndre Jordan is our guy and we’re stopping at nothing from out bidding everyone else to get what we want”, they most likely wouldn’t get the same player as a team like, say Miami or Boston. It isn’t just the fact that the latter two teams are steadier in their ways and in more of a prime position to compete for a championship, but also that Jordan won’t be asked to do things he isn’t ready to do. If Tyson Chandler signs a long-term contract with someone who believes he’s suddenly going to give them a capable post presence, then they’re burning money. Jordan is similar, he needs to be surrounded with comforting personnel who can utilize the game he was meant to play; only then will he continue on the path he’s currently set on, to be one of the premier game changing big men in the league.

Last season it was reported in an ESPN.com article that according to “a prominent agent” Jordan’s asking price on the open market would likely settle between $9-11 million a year, aligning with recent deals signed by Joakim Noah and Andrew Bynum. Here are some organizations who could not only use a maturing force to stabilize their defense, but in all likelihood afford it, too. (These projections are assuming no hard cap is enforced in the league’s new CBA.)

Boston: Now that the Celtics have lost Kendrick Perkins, it’s high time they replace him. The Celtics need that imposing figure in the middle to anchor their elite yet fading defense. Kevin Garnett’s influence on Jordan could be momentous as the veteran ushers in Boston’s next era of talent. Thanks to the recent signing of one of the league’s most advantageous television deals, the Celtics have money this year and moving forward, and an ownership group that isn’t afraid to improve its team on account of some financial leg lifting.

Grade for Jordan: B+

Grade for Celtics: A-

New York: New York has the most one dimensionally talented roster in recent memory. They’re an offensive juggernaut with two dynamic superstar scorers supported by role players who love nothing more than to shoot the basketball (Landry Fields excluded). Last season New York had the misfortune of experiencing the revolving big man cycle from hell: Jared Jeffries, Ronny Turiaf, Sheldon Williams, and even Shawne Williams were cycled in and out of the starting lineup. None was able rebound consistently or provide even the slightest hint of capable backline defense. The addition of Jordan would go a long way in transitioning the Knicks from big name pretender to certified threat. His impact would be noticed immediately and if the Knicks were to in fact improve their statistics on the defensive side, all attribution would go Jordan’s way. And let us not forget the increased exposure playing in New York would do for him the next time he hits free agency.

Grade For Jordan: A-

Grade For Knicks: A+

Miami: In order to join one of the league’s best teams–well-tuned defensive minded machine and all–Jordan would probably have to accept less money than he’d like. He’d also have a usage rate somewhere around -7% through the prime of his career. That’s not fun. On the bright side, they could go 0-82 and give up 150 points per game, and he wouldn’t see an ounce of blame.

Grade For Jordan: B-

Grade For Miami: A

Orlando: Imagine breaking up with your Brazilian super model fiancé before she has a chance to realize she’s way too hot for you, in the process downgrading to the semi-cute girl who all but forced you to download the keypad lock application on your iphone when you were in your mid 20′s. The new girl will keep you company, trying her best to help you forget about the old flame, but there’s only so much she can do. She’s no super model, and she’s not Brazilian.

For those who’ve been there, I realize that’s an extremely harsh analogy to assess DeAndre Jordan, but Howard’s overall impact is that ridiculous. If the Magic do in fact lose one of the greatest players in their franchise’s history to free agency, Jordan would ease the pain like taking two tablets of Advil would assuage a blood clot. But I guess that’s better than nothing?

Grade For Jordan: C-

Grade For Orlando: D

Dallas: (See Orlando, except the super model fiancé hails from Canada instead of Brazil.)

Grade For Jordan: A-

Grade For Dallas: B+

San Antonio: (See Dallas, except the super model fiancé is the Brazilian’s 45-year-old mother.)

Grade For Jordan: C+

Grade For San Antonio: B+

Houston: If the Miami Heat took a hot air balloon to the top of Mount Everest, the Houston Rockets are currently one-armed and hobbling up its side—but at least they’re climbing. Houston has a talented roster of tough, smart, young and enthusiastic players who are still searching for their role in the NBA. What they don’t have, in the absence of Yao Ming, is a center able to provide defensive intimidation. Jordan doesn’t make the Rockets a champion, yet, but joining them would give him the opportunity to become a part of a roster that’s full of like-minded, similarly developing talents. He could be their other arm.

Grade For Jordan: B-

Grade For Houston: B+

Los Angeles Clippers: The team that took a chance drafting someone who could barely get off the bench in one year of college basketball, they saw the potential in that body. A franchise that hardly ever hits a draft day home run unless it’s mailed to their front door and set on fire, finally did so, and if they let him walk it’d at least make the list of 100 most regrettable decisions in Clippers history–and that’s saying something.

Grade For Jordan: B+

Grade For Clippers: A-

Categories: Shook Ankles Tags:

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,901 other followers