Rivers Expects Larger Role For Jordan


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PLAYA VISTA, Calif. –
New Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Monday that center DeAndre Jordan will have an increased presence in the fourth quarter this season. Or to put it another way, Jordan will have a presence.

He played and started in 82 games in 2012-13 … and watched the end of most of them. His free-throw shooting could not be trusted down the stretch (this is not a misprint: 38.6 percent), his inconsistent play could not be tolerated, and so Jordan went from the opening lineup every night to seeing action in the final period all of 30 times. He played 148 minutes total in the fourth quarter, or 1.8 per game averaged over the 82 appearances.

That was last season with Vinny Del Negro as coach.

This was Monday with Rivers beginning his first Clippers training camp: “I tend to want to stay big at the end of games, so he’ll be on the floor a lot.”

Opponents will try to make Rivers pay by fouling Jordan in close games and generally taking advantage of being able to put five defenders on four Clippers. But there was little doubt in the message delivered during Media Day: Jordan will be used differently now. Whether he capitalizes on the new opportunity or continues with the inconsistent ways of the past will largely determine how far they go in the playoffs.

“Oh, I think it’s huge for us,” Rivers said. “I think he will be consistent. I’m looking at DeAndre Jordan as an All-Defense player. I think he should be on the All-Defense team. I think he should be a candidate to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. And that is going to require consistency for him to do that. We need him to be the captain of our defense, so I’m putting a lot on his plate. All the other stuff will take care of itself. If he does that job, I’m not that concerned about everything else.”

Where does this confidence come from?

“I’ve seen his body,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if it was a year ago or two years ago, playing against him, I looked him and I thought, ‘Man, this kid should dominate defensively.’ I wasn’t here last year. I don’t know what happened with that. I can say this: He was focusing on offense, trying to be defense. He was focused on a lot of stuff. All I’m trying to do is narrow his focus. I’m trying to make it easier for him.”

Chris Paul signed his new contract in the summer, Blake Griffin had his first non-injury, non-lockout offseason, Rivers was hired away from the Celtics to flash his championship ring around as unique coaching credibility in the locker room. Now, Jordan becomes the question and arguably the primary question, actually.

The difference between Jordan reaching his potential as a rim-protector and rebounder that his lack of offense doesn’t matter and Jordan as a frustrating tease could end up as the difference between the Clippers as legit contenders to win the West or another letdown finish.

It can’t just be Jordan on the court in the fourth quarter because he is big, after all. It has to be Jordan there because he has become the permanent factor that began to emerge a few seasons ago, only to be replaced by the 2012-13 version.

“I know that defensively, it starts with me down there and I have to communicate to my teammates,” Jordan said, embracing the expectations. “But I have to set an example as well. Defense my main priority and offense is going to come second. I’ll let these guys” — noting the presence of Paul and Griffin with him on stage — “handle that. I’m confident. He (Rivers) makes me even more confident. So do my teammates. Its going to take me going out there to play the right way and help our team win.”

The chance to show it will begin in about a month with a schedule run that is an amazing coincidence as a series of proving grounds for both centers. The Oct. 29 opener is against the Lakers as they try to move beyond Dwight Howard with Pau Gasol or Chris Kaman starting. The second game is against the Warriors with Andrew Bogut wanting a good start to the season as an immediate statement of how good he can be when healthy. Then, the Kings and DeMarcus Cousins fresh off his $62-million extension. After that, Howard and the Rockets.

Jordan has the new chance. Now he has to prove he should stay on the court.

13 Comments

  1. Limbo says:

    Dont forget, Boston’s iteration of Kendrick Perkins is very dominant defensively. Look at Perk in OKC now. Rivers CAN also make DJ a defensive behemoth.

  2. jimbo says:

    Good decision by Rivers but… he has to “coach” the performance from Jordan that Del Negro was unable to get. Easier said than done. A capable player’s frame of mind is more generally altered by his teammates than than by the coach. Jordan has all the other tools, he has to develop “focus48″, meaning keep the focus for the entire game.

  3. Pedro says:

    Ok, first fix the D.
    After that you just have to create a half court offense from nowhere, specially when CP3 goes to the bench.
    Blake and Jordan are non-factors on offense when the opponent plays a slow paced game.
    All in all, good luck Doc!

  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Doc Rivers, my favorite coach! I also love the Clips. We’re gonna have an amazing season! Deandre will do extremely well under Doc. Go Dre!!!

  5. J says:

    I think blake griffin needs to improve his defensive game its rubbish compared to his offence
    deandre should try to be a hustle points type of player, the type of player that gets his points with posterizing put backs

  6. Doc Rivers said Monday that center DeAndre Jordan will have an increased presence in the fourth quarter this season…………………………I’m looking at DeAndre Jordan as an All-Defense player. I think he should be on the All-Defense team.

    ????????????

    Ok Doc, you are a great coach. But I’m not sure if DeAndre can play D the way you expect him to do in your 1st year at LAC. He is about a 1000 light years behind on guys like Hibbert, Gasol, Howard and KG. But I’m pretty sure of 1 thing: DeAndre is going to dominate Chris Kaman on Oct. 29 and LAC will beat LAL……all season long.

    • RJ says:

      He’s behind Garnett and Hibbert defensively, but those are about as top notch as frontcourt defenders get. Jordan has all the tools to be a great defender, and block more shots than Hibbert, even with the 3 inch height disparity, and you can tell Jordan loves shutting people down. He’s not far off.

  7. Karlo Garcia says:

    Listening to DOC, he should have mentioned about Deandre Jordans free throw shooting :) . Not surprised that he wanted to have a big lineup.

  8. Richard says:

    He made Perkins stay through the 4th qrtr in Boston, he’d be able to fix Jordan. Jordan FT woes can be fixed i guess. If he could up it to around 45-50% this season, then he’ll be good staying out there. But I think the Clips are capable of blowing out most teams this season. If that happens, FT issues won’t be a problem.

  9. Ry says:

    Man Rivers is fixin everything an finally there workin on shots an defenese man this is one of the most Athletic teams in years if he gets them to do the basic D on teams with there skill they can go real far i mean they made it to the playoffs twice not knowing how the D up will be scary

  10. justD says:

    the clippers can escape from the top of the wild wild west if DJ can anchor the defensive presence inside!!
    i believe DOC can help this team to reach into the finals playing with my heat!!

  11. the black mamba says:

    hmm i see rivers is already making good decisions

    • RJ says:

      Yup. And really, Deandre can score enough, too. He’s developing a couple post moves, and even if they look a little rough, he has the strength and quickness/athleticism to pull them off. He can dunk in traffic, above traffic, and obviously on the break. His free throw stroke actually looks pretty good to me. He just needs to let them fly and get a feel for how hard he has to throw it to make them. I say this as a born shooter, and someone who generally shoots around 80% on FTs. He’ll be fine. Griffin is the guy who really needs to step up.