“Excitement is the word,” Chris Paul said. “It’s all about the process.”
That summed up the player’s expectations. They said the right things: emphasis on defense and rebounds, practice, and acclimation to each other.
While the media day covered team goals and future accomplishments, it was Jordan being there with the other two leaders, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, that was the most telling.
It’s a big step to have Jordan sit there with faces of the franchise as an implication that he is a big part of the equation.
Jordan will be the reason the Clippers make that much-needed step forward. Not Griffin, not Paul, and not Rivers.
Coach Doc Rivers implied that Jordan can be an All-NBA Defensive team player. Jordan clearly understood the questions and the expectations put on his broad shoulders. And he should. By now, the criticisms on Jordan are clear around the league. He’s a liability on the free-throw line, he doesn’t rebound as much as his frame indicates, and his post defense is lacking. What he lacks in basketball IQ, he makes up for in athleticism.
Last season, Jordan regressed in every counting statistic that counts. He only averaged 24:30 minutes a game. In those minutes, he averaged 8.8 points (career-high), 7.2 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks, but shot 38.6 percent from the free-throw line. Jordan isn’t an offensive force; he needs a lot of work to be an average offensive center. He is, however, a great weak-side defender and offensive rebounder. If Jordan improves his positioning for defensive boards, face-up/post defense, and man-to-man, this may be the push the Clippers need to claim their first championship.
Offense can win games, but defense wins championships. The Clippers have to unearth the defensive gem that is Jordan in order to have that big man cog stifling anything and everything in the paint.
Photo by Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons
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