The MVP race will end in glorious fashion this season. I feel there's a player not getting enough recognition. DeAndre Jordan is having a ridiculous season that I don't think is getting noticed enough. I have no doubt that DeAndre Jordan will struggle to get any MVP votes, but there's no doubt in my mind he deserves some consideration. Let's review why.
He is Great at Rebounding
Rebounds are underrated in the NBA. There's simply no question about this. They help teams win. You can't score if you don't get the ball. The biggest part of DeAndre's game is his absurd rebounding. Here's how he compares to other bigs on the defensive end.
An average big (I include power forwards and centers) is expected to get around nine defensive rebounds per forty-eight minutes. This season the only player pulling down more defensive boards than DeAndre Jordan on a per-minute basis is Hassan Whiteside. It is worth noting that when we calculate Wins Produced, players are penalized for more defensive rebounds. Even with this penalty, Jordan is almost four times as good as the average center!
On the offensive side, DeAndre Jordan is even more impressive.
DeAndre Jordan drops to being the fifth best offensive rebounder in the NBA behind Andre Drummond, Bismack Biyambo, Hassan Whiteside (seriously, this guy is good!), and Dewayne Dedmon. The Clippers "secret sauce" is their offense, and there's no question offensive rebounds help here. An offensive rebound gives a team second shot. Even the worst shooters with two shots tend to be better than the best players with one shot. On that note.
DeAndre is a Scorer
There's a simple reason DeAndre will never be considered a star at the same level of other NBA players - he doesn't score enough points. Now, DeAndre has averaged a double-double the last two seasons. But with 11.0 points per game, it's not quite eye-catching. That said, when we factor in DeAndre's shooting efficiency and even his horrendous free throw shooting, he's still great at scoring. Here's how DeAndre's Net Points per 48 looks.
DeAndre is a top ten scoring big in the NBA. Now, I'm certainly open to the idea that playing next to Chris Paul helps him out. But I'm against the notion that it is somehow easy to get the shots he does. Chris Paul plays next to other bigs, and we don't see them with anywhere close to the efficiency or number of close shots to the hoop. And even if you argue he can't get any more shots a game, he's already an elite scorer. Sadly, if he took five more shots a game at a much worse percentage, it would likely get him some more respect.
He has few weaknesses
Let's run down the rest of DeAndre's great boxscore stats quickly. Spoiler, it's all but one of them.
The reality is DeAndre's game has very few weaknesses. As critical as people are of NBA players, it's hard actually to get players with no flaws. If you have a player as strong at as many things as DeAndre? Well, I think that's MVP worthy.
The only truly explicit weakness in DeAndre's game is his passing game.
I view DeAndre's passing like his free throws. Yes, it's poor. But when we compare it to his turnovers, it's not a major flaw. It's pretty clear DeAndre's role isn't to hold or distribute the ball. And as the center's job doesn't typically involve that, it's not a big deal.
The last criticism DeAndre's game will get will be about his defense. We should be clear that when people bring this up, they are referring to DeAndre's ability to impact individual shooting percentage. They are not referring to DeAndre's blocks, steals, fouls, or defensive rebounds, all of which he excels at.
The Clippers do have a below average defense. A big part of this is that they foul at a higher rate than the average team. DeAndre doesn't foul a lot. Of course, you could argue he "shirks" on defense and that results in higher fouls. If you do this, of course, I'll ask for systemized data showing that. The Clippers do allow their opponents to shoot better than average as well. When we use stats.nba.com though, DeAndre doesn't show up near the of the list in terms of the Clippers inability to defend. I'm not sold that DeAndre is that bad here. And even if he is, I'm still not sold it's close to even ding the rest of his game.
DeAndre Jordan is currently showing up as four times as good as the average center! He's doing this on one of the top teams in the NBA. I know he won't get the credit when it's all said and done. There are a lot of biases in the mainstream perception working against him. People love points, even inefficient ones. Tom Chambers for Phoenix in 1990 was almost the exact inverse. He was a big that scored over twenty points a game but couldn't rebound. He did this on a 54 win team though, and he placed top ten in MVP voting!
Jordan can't shoot free throws, which always irks fans. He doesn't have the coveted midrange shot that pundits inexplicably want in their bigs. Somehow he is the cause of all of the Clippers defensive woes, not the terrible bench that Rivers has assembled. But if you zoom in on his game, he is one of the best in the NBA. And a top big on a top team should be a no-brainer for MVP consideration.