You finally can breath a sigh of relief of Mavs fans, DeAndre Jordan is a Maverick. Officially this time, too. Not that he was going to renege as he did last time, as both parties seem eager and ready to put the past behind them.
But I know I didn’t forget and neither did you, so it bears repeating.
New days are on the horizon in Mavs land though. DeAndre Jordan is far and away the most talented center the Mavericks have had in the Dirk Nowitzki era. Yes, that includes Tyson Chandler who was a great player, but not even he could match the physically imposing nature of DeAndre Jordan.
Hes sort of a rich man’s Tyson Chandler. I know many Mavs fans might take offense to that and I’m sorry, but this fit is just too golden to not be excited about. What makes it such a great fit? Many of the same reasons that Tyson was such a star here.
1. Elite Vertical Spacing
DeAndre Jordan was one of the primary cogs on the Clippers team known as “Lob City.” Jordan’s massive frame and explosive athleticism made him a primary target for Chris Paul in pick and rolls or on his drives to the cup. We have all seen the highlights, when that ball is in the air DJ is coming down with it.
The highlights are part of the fun. But why is this vital to building an explosive offense? What exactly is “vertical spacing”?
Vertical Spacing is a buzz word NBA teams like to use when you have a player like DeAndre Jordan. You have heard “spacing the floor” or “You can’t have enough shooters!”
Those emphasize horizontal court spacing. Vertical spacing stretches the defense, you guessed it, vertically. Whenever you have such an explosive rim runner/roll man, the defense has to exaggerate their help or rotation responsibilities. And in turn, others find openings.
Just imagine the DSJ/DeAndre pick and roll where Luka is in that weakside corner. Luka’s man has a choice, give extra help on the DJ roll to the rim and possibly give up a three, or stay home and open up the lane. If he helps, then that pass goes to the corner and Luka has the choice of a shot or can attack his defender closing back out to him. If he doesn’t? Then a perfect pass from DSJ leads to DJ cramming on everyone.
That’s just one of many scenarios where having a guy like this can benefit a team offensively. And we have seen in the past how effective roll men are in Rick Carlisle’s offense. Acquiring DeAndre only makes it that much more dynamic.
2. Interior toughness
Another component of the Center position the Mavs have been searching to find. We have cycled through Chris Kaman, Sam Dalambert, Nerlens Noel, and many more looking for this singular trait, and only one (Tyson Chandler) has showed it.
We search no more, at least for this one season.
DJ did however suffer a drop off last season, at least a small one. Would you like to know how many rebounds a game he snagged in his “down” season? 15 per contest. That was good enough to lead the NBA. The Mavericks being at the bottom of the league in rebounding seems to be an annual tradition, so this can really do nothing but help them.
Another area the Mavs have long struggled in, is defending the paint. And while DJ did see a significant dip in his defensive metrics and production (less that 1 BPG), he is still a massive upgrade over what was formerly in place.
And that’s if he keeps the same form he did last season. But I foresee better for him. So much of defense is engagement, hustle, and energy. DJ was clearly ready for a change of scenery from LA. All his friends had been traded away and the Clippers weren’t competing anymore, it can be human nature to let it affect ones morale.
But by all accounts, DeAndre Jordan is ready and excited to be a Maverick. I expect to see a rejuvenated DJ, One who doesn’t lack in intensity and engagement on the less glamorous end. At his peak DeAndre Jordan was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, capable of owning the painted area for entire games. I’m not suggesting the Mavs are getting that guy, they might be, but I still expect to see a much better version of him this coming season rather than the one we just saw.
In the summer of 2015, DeAndre Jordan committed to joining the Mavericks because he wanted to be more of a focal point. He wanted to be the face of a franchise.
We all know how that ended. No need to reopen old wounds, but I think we can say DJ was immature at that time. Not for having a change of heart, but for avoiding Cuban and doubting himself to the point where he felt he wasn’t ready for that role.
He’s 29 now, and has amassed a lot of playoff and league experience. After CP3 left and Blake was traded, it seems he understands that this is a business. Playing for a team who wants you and doesn’t make empty promises means something. This transparency and open dialogue is something the Mavericks traditionally do well with players, and something that I think DJ maybe realized over these last few years. It’s part of what made this re-marrying possible.
Another part of the Mavericks appeal is the two budding young studs on the roster, surely the thing that peaked DJ’s interest the most. Two players that are ripe for grooming and guidance from a self aware and seasoned veteran like Jordan. Obviously on the floor they are all going to have a mutually beneficial relationship, but stardom in the NBA doesn’t come easy, and having a guy who has gone through quite a bit in his 10 years to lean on should help out the young bucks.
If Jordan can give the Mavericks everything on the floor they have been missing while still taking the pups under his wing, I would say this will be considered a huge success.
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