Brooklyn Nets: DeAndre Jordan ticks many boxes

Brooklyn Nets DeAndre Jordan. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets DeAndre Jordan. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets have recently been linked to DeAndre Jordan. Here’s how the former Clipper could help Brooklyn next season if he comes to the borough.

After a shockingly impressive regular season, in which the Brooklyn Nets improved on their win total by 14 games, Brooklyn was overpowered in five games by the Philadelphia 76ers in last year’s playoffs.

The Sixers pummeled the Nets with their physicality, having a size advantage at nearly every position.

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Brooklyn was punished especially hard on the interior, where second-year center Jarrett Allen was no match down low for Philly star Joel Embiid and his gargantuan backup, Boban Marjanovic.

In Game 1, a Nets victory on the road, Ed Davis played an important role on the defensive end, picking up 16 rebounds in 25 minutes and providing the extra bit of muscle that Allen lacked.

But Davis sprained an ankle in that game which, for all intents and purposes, kept him out for the remainder of the series.

Without him, Allen was left alone to deal with Embiid and Marjanovic and, while the Texas product improved as the series went on, he simply didn’t have enough muscle to deal with either of the Sixers’ big men.

The lack of size was apparent for all to see and during the introductory press conference for the Nets’ new rookies on Monday, general manager Sean Marks mentioned adding bulk as one of the team’s priorities this offseason.

The Nets struggled mightily on the defensive end against Embiid and Co. in the playoffs, but their difficulties against opposing behemoths plagued them throughout last season.

Old-fashioned big guys like Embiid, Enes Kanter, Jusuf Nurkic, Dwight Howard and Jonas Valanciunas all dominated the Nets with their sheer size.

While only six players bigger than 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds managed to average 20 points over the course of the season, the Nets allowed 12 of them to do so in games against them. I mean, the Nets let JaVale McGee go off for 33 points and 20 rebounds, for crying out loud.

Although he does have great shot-blocking prowess, second-year center Jarrett Allen is noticeably skinnier than many of the players he comes up against at the center position and putting on weight is something he knows he has to work on this offseason.

While he has developed into a quality starter so far after just two seasons, putting on muscle takes time and it may be a couple seasons before we see Allen at his peak physical condition.

Ed Davis was a crucial part of the Nets’ rotation all year, and the former Trail Blazer had by far the best on/off rating of any Brooklyn player this season.

Of course, some of that is because he came off the bench and often competed against opposing reserves, but Davis did provide a spark on the defensive end with his rebounding, size, and energy even against starting big men.

And while Davis has often raved about the culture and the team in Brooklyn, he understands the business aspect of the game, telling Bryan Fonseca of Nets Daily in April:

"“Me personally, I would love to be back. But y’all know how free agency works. Sean, they’re going to go after the top free agents as they should, and then however it goes, if everybody else falls in line, that’s just how it works and we’ll see what happens.”"

Davis has established himself as one of the best backup big men out on the free agent market — he finished the year with the third-highest rebound percentage in the NBA, behind only Hassan Whiteside and Andre Drummond.

The North Carolina product made approximately $4.5 million last year for the Nets but, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (subscription required), he figures to have his fair share of suitors this offseason and could easily command a multi-year deal.

With his Non-Bird rights, the Nets have the ability to go over the cap to offer Davis a two-year, $11 million deal. But with their sights set on bigger fish in the free agent sea, the Nets may not be able to give Davis the kind of bigger, longer-term deal that he may get elsewhere.

If Davis chooses to leave, signing a backup center will be high on the Nets’ to-do list once free agency kicks off, and rumors have been flying around that the Nets are interested in DeAndre Jordan.

After spending the first 10 seasons of his career with the Clippers, Jordan signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks last July before being shipped to New York in Kristaps Porzingis deal.

Jordan has made his living around the rim during his NBA career. He is the NBA’s all-time leader in field goal percentage at an astounding 67.0 percent. Of course, much of this is due to the fact that a large portion of Jordan’s points come from dunks.

According to Basketball-Reference, 81.3 percent of his shots came “at the rim” last season.

Admittedly, Jordan doesn’t help space the floor for a Brooklyn squad that has encouraged most of its players to shoot the 3-ball.

But he thrived earlier in his career off the pick and roll with Chris Paul, and while neither D’Angelo Russell nor Kyrie Irving are as talented passers as CP3, opposing defenses will have to help on them in the pick and roll, leaving Jordan open to dive to the basket.

Other than Jarrett Allen, the Nets don’t really have many other non-shooters on the roster, so Jordan’s lack of an outside shot shouldn’t prove to be a major issue.

At 6-foot-11 and 265 pounds, Jordan has about an inch and 40 pounds over Davis, so he could really add some more muscle to the Nets’ interior defense.

Additionally, Jordan is a former two-time All-Defensive selection and has averaged over 2.0 blocks a game four times in his 11-year career. The Nets won’t lose much on the glass either — Jordan ended the year fourth among qualified players, just one spot behind Davis, in terms of rebounding rate.

While he certainly would provide help on the court, another intriguing facet of the Nets’ interest in Jordan is what it can do this summer in terms of free agent signings. It is publicly known that DeAndre is close friends with Kevin Durant, as noted by Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Adding Jordan could be one way for the Nets do shift the KD sweepstakes in their favor.

Despite winning two Finals MVPs for the Warriors, Durant has always felt a little bit isolated from the core group of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

That divide was only made clearer earlier this season, when he and Draymond engaged in a long verbal altercation following the end of regulation in a game against the Clippers in November. It was a well-documented incident that showed the divide between Durant and the rest of the team.

After an experience as an outsider, Durant may very well want to have people he’s comfortable with, like Jordan, on his next squad as he approaches the end of his career.

Obviously, a lot has changed since then, as Durant tore his Achilles during his return in Game 5 of the NBA Finals and will likely miss the entire 2019-20 season. His departure from the Warriors seemed like a foregone conclusion, but the injury complicates everything.

The odds seem to be changing every day and many believe Durant himself doesn’t even know but, as of right now, Brooklyn is the odds-on favorite to land the former MVP.

Jordan and Durant were also teammates with Kyrie Irving on the USA Basketball team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and a potential reunion could be on the cards in Brooklyn, with most around the league operating under the assumption that Kyrie Irving will be donning the black and white next season.

While much of the Nets’ success on the court was thanks to the emergence of D’Angelo Russell as an all-star level player, the guard credited a lot of his progress to the veteran leadership of Jared Dudley, DeMarre Carroll and Ed Davis.

Dudley reached out to the former Laker last July when Dudley was traded to Brooklyn and constantly challenged Russell to improve and make his teammates better.

When the Nets team reached the playoffs, Dudley recognized his teammates’ lack of experience and took on a bigger, more vocal role and, even though the Nets couldn’t make it past the Sixers, his efforts didn’t go unnoticed.

Jordan, as an 11-year veteran, can bring a similar kind of presence to the Nets’ locker room this summer. More so even than Dudley, Jordan has been on the court in those big moments and will be able to help the Nets team with his leadership.

As a center, Jordan can also help mentor Jarrett Allen. Both are long, athletic shot-blockers who play above the rim, and DJ could be crucial to Allen’s development on the defensive side.

During his days on the Clippers, Jordan was a rim-protecting menace and he can help Allen have the same effect on that end of the floor for Brooklyn.

In his exit interviews at the end of the season, Dudley called Allen the most important piece of the Nets’ puzzle moving forward,

"“Because people talk about the Russells and all that Jarrett Allen is the key. He’s the key ‘cause he’s the foundation. He blocks the shot, he’s catching the drop-offs and he’s the one that going to give you 18 points without even calling a play in his level. And so, it’s definitely going to be an interesting summer.”"

Money could be the sticking point for Jordan, though. He’s coming off a huge, one-year $23 million deal with the Mavericks/Knicks, and so DJ would have to take a big pay cut to come to Brooklyn, or anywhere else for that matter.

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According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, the Nets will have the room exception to sign Jordan for $4.8 million. He will most likely have some bigger offers on the table, but Irving and/or Durant coming to Brooklyn might just be enough for Jordan to take less.