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DeAndre Jordan's Development Is the Most Important Factor to Clippers' Success

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DeAndre Jordan's Development Is the Most Important Factor to Clippers' Success
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

There were plenty of comings and goings in Lob City this summer.

But while all of the Clippers moves have varying levels of both risk and impact, there's no doubt that the most significant part of the offseason was the signing of a five-year, $95 million contract extension that would keep Blake Griffin in a Clippers uniform through the 2017-18 season.

Despite how important Blake Griffin's contract extension is to the long-term success of the franchise (we won't even start on Chris Paul's impending free agency…that's a whole 'nother story), the catalyst to the Clippers' success moving forward may have showed himself for the first time this preseason. 

That happens to be DeAndre Jordan.

Coming out of high school in Houston, Jordan was Rivals.com's No. 2 center of the 2007 class, as well as the country's eighth-best prospect (Blake Griffin was ranked 23rd). Jordan committed to Texas A&M but posted underwhelming freshman numbers of right around eight points and six boards per game.

Despite having as much potential as anyone in the 2008 NBA Draft, the first round went by without his name being called. The Los Angeles Clippers selected Jordan with the 35th pick of the second round. They felt that selecting Jordan would be the perfect low-risk, high-reward move, considering second-round draft picks do not always sign fully guaranteed contracts.

Anything they'd get out of him would be a bonus.

Jordan showed flashes of defensive brilliance in his first three seasons, but there was no trace of his offense being non-dunk related. After his first season under a new four-year, $43 million contract, Jordan began to see more minutes by staying out of foul trouble. However, he would be absolutely schooled by a pair of crafty big men in the Clippers' two postseason series against the Grizzlies (Marc Gasol) and the Spurs (Tim Duncan).

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Jordan has been an offensive afterthought and non-factor on the court since he entered the league, but this may be the year that Jordan shakes that stigma. 

As a pro, Jordan has rarely ever actively posted up (or actually executed a legitimate post move) or called for the ball.

That has not been the case this preseason.

He worked to establish post position, flashed a few moves, showcased that he can finish with his non-dominant right hand (at times) and made noticeable strides toward developing a low-post game. If the preseason ends up being an indication of what the regular season has in store for Jordan, the Clippers will be ecstatic.

Development in Jordan's offensive game is paramount to the Clippers success in both the short-term and long-term. If he develops any sort of offensive game, the Clippers will absolutely be capable of taking a major leap forward from Western Conference hopeful to legitimate title threat.

With an offensive game, teams would not be able to switch off of Jordan as much defensively, which in turn would lead to more one-on-one opportunities for Blake Griffin. Griffin, who still has managed to put up more than 20 points per game in each of his first two healthy seasons in the league, has faced as many double teams as any top player.

If Jordan's offensive development could help lessen the pressure that teams put on Griffin, then he could become an even more lethal player.

On the wing, if the Clippers work inside-out through Griffin and Jordan, there could be plenty of three-point opportunities on kick-outs for guys like Jamal Crawford, Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Willie Green.

Jordan's offensive development would change the game for the Clippers and take them from being a solid team in the West to a potential odds-on favorite to reach the finals.

But the free throw shooting…well, that may never change.

That is unless he goes back in time like Blake Griffin did.

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