Realistic Expectations for the L.A. Clippers' Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan

Jeff NisiusContributor IIDecember 3, 2012

Realistic Expectations for the L.A. Clippers' Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan

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    As the cornerstone big men of the franchise, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are vital pieces in the success of the Los Angeles Clippers.

    Both players have developed nicely since being drafted and expectations are extremely high as the Clippers continue to win.

    In the meantime, both players’ performances are continually being evaluated by management and the media.  But what should we expect from the two young big men?

    Read on to find out some realistic expectations for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Offense

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    Blake Griffin entered this season as one of the best power forwards in the league.  While his offensive game is catching up to his elite athleticism, Griffin is capable of scoring multiple ways but shooting has been a concern.

    Griffin did not shoot above 37 percent from 10-feet and out in his first two seasons.  This was seen as a major flaw, and Blake has worked diligently on his shooting in order to expand his scoring repertoire. So far Griffin’s shot seems to have improved as he is connecting on 44 percent of his jumpers from 16 to 23 feet according to hoopdata.

    However, there is one problem: Griffin’s scoring has dropped well below his career average of 21.2 points per game to 17.8 this season. 

    While the Clippers are deeper and more talented than Blake’s previous two teams in Los Angeles, he needs to improve his scoring if the Clippers are going to win the division. 

    His field goal attempts are too low for a player of his caliber.  Blake should be taking 16 or 17 shots per game and scoring at least 20 points per game. 

    Although Griffin is not meeting expectations on offense so far, DeAndre Jordan is exceeding his. 

    Jordan’s career average is 6.3 points per game and it looks like it will be improving.  Jordan worked very hard this summer on his post moves and it has paid off.  He is scoring 10.5 points per game while keeping his field goal percentage above 60 percent.

    Jordan does not need many plays run for him, but he absolutely should be a double-digit scoring threat every time he laces them up. 

Rebounding

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    One area where the Los Angeles Clippers have struggled this season is on the glass.  With two big men as athletic as DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, the Clippers should not be ranked 24th in rebounding.

    Griffin has averaged 11.3 rebounds per game for his career, while Jordan has averaged 6.4.  Additionally, both players have a rebound rate at or lower than 17 according to hoopdata.  Although rebounding is a skill, neither player should have rebound rate less than 18.

    Rebounding is an essential part of a team’s defense, and the Clippers need their big men to control the glass in order to limit second-chance points for their opponents, but most importantly, in order to create transition baskets.

    The Clippers may be known as Lob City, but unless they are able to start fast breaks off steals and rebounds, the title fades.  Lob City literally begins and ends with Jordan and Griffin.

    Both players should average double-digit rebounds.  In Griffin’s case, he needs to bump his average near 13 if he wants to become known as one of the best forwards in the NBA.

Defense

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    Last season the Los Angeles Clippers' defense was painfully average.  It was painful because of how well the offense played, only to see the defense give back the points they had just scored.

    The defense is improved so far this season, but it needs to improve further—that starts with the guys who protect the paint.

    Both players hold a defensive rating of 100 so far this season, which is an improved mark for both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but let’s break it down even further.

    Griffin plays 63 percent of his team’s minutes at the power forward position.  Surprisingly, he is doing a solid job against other power forwards, limiting them to a 15.5 PER, which is essentially the league average.

    However, Griffin still needs to improve his defense overall.  He gets lost in pick-and-roll situations and needs to do a better job of preventing his opponent from gaining good position on the block. 

    Blake also needs to focus on limiting his man to a PER below league average.  His ability to do that combined with improving his rebounding will make him a very difficult two-way matchup.

    Jordan, on the other hand, is expected to be a rim protector and solid defender.  He has hardly lived up to either of those titles so far.  His opponents at center are recording a PER of 17.8 against him, clearly not an acceptable rating for an alleged defensive center.

    This is one of the reasons Jordan was unable to stay on the floor last year in late game situations and during the playoffs.  His defense is not good enough to overcome his poor foul shooting and limited offensive game.

    DeAndre really needs to perform better on defense, especially for the team’s sake.  He is being paid handsomely and is expected to be a key defender in the Clippers' defensive system.  Reducing the impact opposing centers have should be his top priority, and the PER against him needs to drop below 15.

Free Throw Shooting

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    One aspect that goes overlooked is a player’s free throw shooting.  That is not the case for DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.  Both players are horrible from the foul line and nearly everyone knows it.

    Griffin is shooting a dreadful 60.8 percent from the line, while Jordan is even worse at 45.9 percent. Both players get to the line plenty, but converting those attempts into points is very important.

    Neither player has poor form, but the problem lies in the consistency of their form.  Elbows flaring out, release points changing and different follow-throughs seem to be the main concern.

    Either way, Jordan needs to hit at least 50 percent of his attempts, and Griffin should not be below 65 percent.  Both are realistic goals that can be achieved with better concentration and repetition of proper form.