Two summers ago, DeAndre Jordan had an opportunity to carve his own path in the NBA. The Dallas Mavericks made it clear that they saw him as a star in this league, and the temptation was enough to make him sign on the dotted line and step out of the shadows of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. But something held him back. Being the face of a franchise comes with tremendous pressure, and Jordan obviously didn’t feel ready for that.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes that’s been a running theme in his career thus far. But he also thinks Jordan’s success with Team USA at the Rio Olympics this summer should give him a new sense of confidence. Here’s what he told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:
“He sees himself now as a star,” Rivers said. “As good as he is, I don’t think he’s ever seen himself as one. He’s always been the third guy so he’s looked at himself as a role player in some ways. Now he knows how good he is and I think any time you’re around winning, it’s important, and I think DJ now knows what winning looks like.
“Of all our guys, I think he’s the most important guy this summer for us.”
As the defensive anchor for USA Basketball in Rio, Jordan was by far one of their most important players. It’s not simple hubris for Jordan to think of himself as a star now.
Whether that will actually entail him assuming a larger role in the offense remains to be seen, but as we discussed back when the Olympics were in full swing, the data shows unequivocally that Team USA players tend to improve significantly the season after they participate in a major USA Basketball event, so Jordan’s progress this coming season is definitely something to keep an eye on.