A busy offseason continues for the Los Angeles Lakers.
After reaching a buyout with the Detroit Pistons, one-time All-Star DeAndre Jordan has agreed to a deal with the Lakers.
OFFICIAL: That's our DJ pic.twitter.com/7iUFwcxHd5- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 9, 2021
Jordan joins the Lakers following two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets. He shot a career-best 76.3 percent from the field in 2020-21 but saw his point (7.5), rebound (7.5) and minute (21.9) averages drop to levels we haven't seen since early in his career. He wasn't a part of Brooklyn's rotation in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, paving the way for him to be traded to the Pistons and subsequently bought out.
There's a chance Jordan will have a bigger role on the Lakers than he did on the Nets last season. Having traded Marc Gasol to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers are now down to two traditional centers on their roster in Dwight Howard and Jordan, plus Anthony Davis, who plays both power forward and center. Davis playing more center than he did last season would eat into Jordan's playing time, but the Lakers will still likely play big a lot of the time with either Jordan or Howard next to Davis.
Even if Davis logs more minutes at center next season, bringing back Howard and signing Jordan signals a pretty clear vision for the team's center rotation - surround LeBron James and Davis with athletic big men who can play above the rim, protect the basket and rebound, much like they did with Howard and JaVale McGee in their 2019-20 championship run.
"Being able to have multiple lob threats now again with this team is going to be great, especially with the playmakers that we have and the unselfish guys that we have on this team, it's going to be great," Jordan said in his introductory press conference. "It gets to be able to space the floor a little bit with guys playing in the dunker and having, like I said, multiple playmakers and shooters spaced."
Even at the age of 33, Jordan remains one of the league's most efficient rim-runners with his combination of size, speed and athleticism. According to NBA.com, he generated 21.1 percent of his offence as the roll man last season while ranking in the 87th percentile with 1.34 points per possession. An additional 32.8 percent of his offence came from cuts, and he ranked in the 84th percentile with an average of 1.50 points per possession.
Going from sharing the court with Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn to Russell Westbrook, LeBron and Davis in Los Angeles shouldn't be much of an adjustment for Jordan. He might not have quite as much space to work with - the Nets have some of the league's best collection of 3-point shooters, whereas 3-point shooting is one of the biggest question marks surrounding this Lakers team - but he will continue to play to his strengths as a screen-setter and lob threat around the basket.
It helps that Westbrook has played next to a number of big men in his career, a list that includes Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams and Clint Capela. Ditto for LeBron, who has been teammates with Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, McGee, Howard and Davis, to name a few.
With his athleticism and their ability to break defences down, Jordan has the potential to play off of Westbrook and LeBron well.
"Those guys are both great passers, great playmakers," Jordan said of Westbrook and LeBron. "They draw so much attention because of their talents, they're able to get in there and they're such great finishers going downhill that when they do draw doubles, they're so unselfish with kicking the ball out for 3s and in this case having lob threats like myself, AD and Dwight down there.
"After a while, it helps opens up the layup for them to score, it opens up 3-point opportunities for our shooters out here. All of that stuff kind of ties in together."
Jordan should also help the Lakers on the offensive glass.
The Lakers were one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league in 2019-20 but slipped to 17th in 2020-21. Not only that, but the Lakers parted ways with their two-best offensive rebounders from last season in Andre Drummond and Montrezl Harrell in free agency. Both Drummond and Harrell are younger than Howard and Jordan, but Howard and Jordan have long been among the league's best offensive rebounders.
At the very least, Howard and Jordan are two players teams have to account for whenever a shot goes up. According to Cleaning the Glass, Jordan ranked in the 73rd percentile for his position in offensive rebounding percentage (the percentage of his team's missed field goals that he rebounded) last season. Howard, meanwhile, ranked in the 99th percentile.
Defensively, Jordan isn't the player he once was, but he's still capable of impacting shots around the basket and has been a part of elite defenses in the past. His size in particular could come in handy in certain matchups, both in the regular season and playoffs, giving the Lakers another big body to throw at opposing centers, if only as a means to preserve Davis.
Jordan has to prove that he can still rim-run, defend and rebound at a high enough level to crack the Lakers' rotation, but there is a clear blueprint for success in Los Angeles.
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