According to Doc Rivers, this summer was transformational for DeAndre Jordan. The Los Angeles Clippers coach said that his center benefited from winning a gold medal with Team USA at the Olympics, and now Jordan understands how good he is in a way that he never did before.

From the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn:

“He sees himself now as a star,” Rivers said. “As good as he is, I don’t think he’s ever seen himself as one. He’s always been the third guy so he’s looked at himself as a role player in some ways. Now he knows how good he is and I think any time you’re around winning, it’s important, and I think DJ now knows what winning looks like.
“Of all our guys, I think he’s the most important guy this summer for us.”

“Actually the international game is more physical at times; I knew he’d be dominant defensively and I knew he would fit that team,” Rivers said. “That team had a lot of guys that wanted to shoot, so you put the one guy that doesn’t really want to shoot with the four shooters. I think the change that [Mike Krzyzewski] made starting him was a big change.”

A few thoughts:

Rivers has been trying to build up Jordan’s confidence for the past three years. He challenged him to win Defensive Player of the Year and referred to Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Jordan as a “big three” before coaching a single Clippers game. Under Rivers’ watch, Jordan’s minutes and productivity have dramatically increased. It sounds like he is trying to give the big man another boost here.

If Jordan is indeed a star, he is not a traditional one. Jordan averaged just 6.6 field-goal attempts last season, and that was a career high. His usage rate was 15.4 percent, and it has never been higher than 15.9 percent in a single season. Jordan is involved in the offense, but it is often as a screen setter and a target for alley-oops, so he’s opening up the floor for his teammates rather than making things happen with the ball in his hands. He has become one of the best centers in the league by playing this role about as well as possible and improving his positional defense.

Last summer in free agency, the Dallas Mavericks sold Jordan on agreeing to a contract by telling him they’d use him like the star he was. They wanted to make him into the best center in the league and they argued that Los Angeles was not putting him in the position to do that. As you surely remember, Jordan went back on the deal and signed a maximum contract with the Clippers. Could he have declined to go to Dallas in part because he didn’t truly believe he was ready to be a franchise player? Shouldn’t the contract offers have indicated that the league considered him a star? It’s fascinating, and a little strange, to think that he needed the Olympics for his confidence.


Courtesy: CBS Sports


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