It happened. The impossible finally freakin’ happened. After losing four of their last five games to those gosh darn supersized rebound-hogging Indiana Pacers, the Brooklyn Nets took down the pesky Eastern Conference sixth seed on Monday night with a fantastic closing stretch, eventually winning 106-105. The talk of the night could have been Joe Harris, who bailed the Nets out late with a huge drive through countless Pacer arms and then that massive screen and relocation to the wing for a three-pointer of gigantic proportions…
THIS IS WHAT JOE HARRIS DOES pic.twitter.com/3HQrRZMDJE— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 11, 2020
It’d be silly to forget Spencer Dinwiddie and his game-winning step-back jumper in the grill of near-All-Star Malcolm Brogdon – perhaps one of the most exhilarating moments of this 2019-2020 Nets season. Assumptively, post-game conversation surrounding Monday’s performance should have entailed these specific highlights and players.
But alas, they didn’t. At least from my end of the world, that chatter involved….
DeAndre Jordan, the Nets’ often-forgotten backup center. Can I get a “HUH?!?!”
To DJ’s credit, he had himself a nice lil’ statistical showing: 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting as well as 19 big-boy rebounds – albeit 10 of which were completely uncontested per Second Spectrum. In spite of that big box score night, Jordan fell victim to some serious criticism from some a-hole online.
It's incredible that, once upon a time, DeAndre Jordan was a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He's so bad positionally in every aspect of defense now.— Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksNBA) February 11, 2020
On the other end, there was a more positive, more appreciative group of individuals who showered Brooklyn’s $40 million man with support.
DJ literally saving the game but won’t get credit cuz Nets twitter hates him— BKN 7/11 (@brooklynnets85) February 11, 2020
To solve this quandary between these two spirited parties, I thought it would be fun to parse through the film and measure out just how effective DeAndre Jordan was during Monday’s game with a simple tally. Time to settle this fair and square: was DJ a net-positive or a net-negative? And did he deserve to play over Jarrett Allen down the stretch?
1st quarter, 4:23 – fouls T.J. Warren
DeAndre Jordan checked in for the first time at the 4:40 mark in the first quarter and made an impact early… by immediately fouling T.J. Warren on a switch after a simple pump-fake. Even in his heyday, as a verticality specialist, DJ was never known for his perimeter defense. This is too easy. We’ll score this -1.
2nd quarter, 7:21 – nice post defense on Domantas Sabonis
This one’s subtle so bear with me. After faking the handoff to the curling Doug McDermott, Domantas Sabonis dives to the baseline, spins and attempts to dribble middle. Notice how DeAndre Jordan wields his machete arms to completely deter Sabonis’ attack. In fact, you can see it at the 2-second mark: DJ uses his left arm as an arm-bar to push Sabonis away from the cup. Then, Jordan quickly switches hands and raises that same left arm to deter the potential hook-shot. His strategy works – or should have worked – had it not been for Taurean Prince, who, for some reason, doubles down low and leaves Myles Turner wide-freaking-open for the kick-out three-point swish.
DeAndre Jordan made Sabonis work on this possession and for that reason alone, I’m scoring this a +1.
3rd quarter, 3:04 – screens for Garrett Temple three-pointer
A gorgeous understated read by DeAndre Jordan. To start, Garrett Temple rises from the corner to fake a screen for Spencer Dinwiddie. As Temple ghosts the bogus ball-screen, DeAndre Jordan strolls from the post to the right elbow and calls for a skip-pass from Spencer Dinwiddie. Voilà, Din launches a lofting cross-court dime, Jordan lands a flare screen on Garrett Temple’s man (Malcom Brogdon) that allows his teammate to roam toward the corner for the utterly uncontested three-point shot.
Unless my eyesight is fooling me, Jordan is solely responsible for calling this half-court zinger. +2 for DJ.
3rd quarter, 2:08 – outlet to Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot
Once again, pretty subtle stuff from our guy DJ. After a Pacer ATO miss, Jordan grabs the fairly uncontested board, spins on his toes and whips a lead pass to a streaking Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot, leading to free throws. +3.
3rd quarter, 2:01 – poor secondary help on T.J. McConnell
After the pair of TLC free throws, T.J. McConnell takes the ball full-court at a slow jog. As he crosses mid-court, Domantas Sabonis turns his body toward Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot, gallops to his left a handful of times, before eventually setting a rather low ball-screen. That’s pretty much all of the space that T.J. McConnell requires to zoom by the crowd for the layup. Could TLC do a better job squeezing around Sabonis’ pick? I mean, yeah, sure. But DJ – mostly known for his rim protection – needs to shift his footwork earlier to provide better secondary help. This isn’t prime D Rose we’re talking about. It’s T.J. McConnell. -2.
4th quarter, 11:42 – soft touch on put back.
Into the fourth quarter we go! With Brooklyn’s starting guards floundering their way into a combined 8-of-28 shooting (egad!), Jordan dug out a couple of 50/50 rebounds off the duo’s (many) misses. This is one of them: Caris LeVert flings a fadeaway jump-shot that glances off front rim while Jordan, meanwhile, jostles two of Indiana’s smaller players (Doug McDermott and Justin Holiday) out of his way. A put-back with silky soft touch finishes the job. +4.
4th quarter, 9:00 – jump hook through two defenders
Brooklyn begins the set with the seldom-seen TLC-to-Garrett Temple entry pass action: Temple curls around the Taurean Prince/DeAndre Jordan double screen before receiving the lead pass from Luwawu-Cabbarot. Realizing that Jordan now has a mismatch with Doug McDermott, Temple quickly flips the rock to his near-7-foot teammate, who finishes the job with a crispy jump hook through possible contact. +5.
4th quarter, 7:03 – more post defense on Domantas Sabonis
Eerily similar Pacer action to midway through the second quarter: Domantas Sabonis fakes the handoff to Doug McDermott before diving to the rim for a post-up tangle with DeAndre Jordan. Once again, keep an eye on DJ’s hands as he toggles back and forth between raising his left and right arms to counter Sabonis’ every move. And then, similar to before, a teammate lets Jordan down in a big way…
For some reason, Joe Harris doubles the Lithuanian down-low, thereby allowing McConnell to break free for his trademarked 12-foot baseline jumper. Sigh. Overall, +6.
4th quarter, 4:27 – frozen in no-man’s land
Spoiler: This was the possession that inspired my scathing tweet regarding Jordan’s immovability on defense. Credit due to Domantas Sabonis, who does a wonderful job screening and re-screening here for Victor Oladipo, completely disjointing Spencer Dinwiddie’s coverage. With Dinwiddie now behind the play, Oladipo laces a pocket pass to Domantas Sabonis for the unopposed lay-in. Now look, some of you may be thinking: This Matt guy is really nitpicking. It’s Dinwiddie who got nailed by the screen!
And yes, while I do agree that Din must do a better job recovering, it’s Jordan who stands awkwardly in the paint flat-footed; he’s the one who fails to see both the ball and his man, leading to that Sabonis layup.
I mean, shoot, at least fake a contest at the rim! -3.
4th quarter, 3:16 – fails to box Domantas Sabonis out
Yet another crunch-time blunder that truly hurt my soul. Even in the midst of a rickety shooting night (4-for-13), Caris LeVert pulled out some wonderful one-on-one defensive possessions down the stretch. Here, he forces Indiana cornerstone Victor Oladipo into a wild scoop shot.
Meanwhile, DeAndre Jordan allows Domantas Sabonis to scurry on by his 265-pound frame and swindle an offensive board. Do I even need to say it? -4.
4th quarter, 2:20 – slips screen for alley-oop
About two seconds into this video, Joe Harris cuts middle around a Jordan flare screen. This action is sniffed out, so Harris reconvenes and becomes the initiator to the first of two on-ball screens for Spencer Dinwiddie.
However, it’s DeAndre Jordan who deserves some major praise for this possession. Notice how Jordan rolls to the rim a half second early in what is called a “slip.” Jordan’s premature dive completely catches poor Domantas Sabonis off guard, leading to the alley-oop smash. +7.
4th quarter, 0:12 – left in the dust by Domantas Sabonis on the ISO
Ooooooooooh, boy. How do I even begin? During this laughably broken Pacer possession, the ball finds its way into Domantas Sabonis’ hands after an unsuccessful pick-and-roll with T.J. Warren. Sabonis aimlessly dribbles right-to-left-to-right again in hopes of finding assistance from one of his cutting teammates but to no avail. Realizing the gravity of his suddenly dire situation, Sabonis turns toward the rim with a live dribble. Seeing the 31-year-old Jordan in his path – about 3-feet too high, might I add – Sabonis makes a business decision; he steamrolls his way to the basket, zooming past poor DeAndre Jordan to put Indiana up one. -5.
So, what were the results of this admittedly silly exercise? Well, for those of you keeping track: Yes, by my count, DeAndre Jordan yielded more positives (7) than negatives (5) during his 28 minutes on the floor. While this is by no means an empirical study, it does give you an idea of DeAndre Jordan’s impact. Given DJ’s impressive showing during the tail-end of the 3rd quarter and the start of the fourth, it’s understandable why Kenny Atkinson went with his backup to close out Monday’s nail-biter. And although Jordan’s aging game and tortoise-y footwork nearly cost Brooklyn a W, I feel pretty confident in saying this…
Kenny Atkinson made the right call in sticking to his guns with DeAndre Jordan. Crunch-time mishaps and all.