The Brooklyn Nets twisting path to adding Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving becomes much more interesting through DeAndre Jordan.
With every waking day, the Brooklyn Nets inch one step closer towards pairing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in black-and-white jerseys. It’s safe to say that the Nets recruitment process has been anything but typical.
Mutual interest between Irving and the Nets has been public knowledge since early May. According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, one of Irving’s leading recruiters was backup point guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
Dinwiddie’s efforts appear to have paid off. The hunted has now become the hunter; per Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, Kyrie Irving “is pressing (his close friend) Durant to join him with the Nets.”
If surrounding Durant with multiple USA Basketball buddies seems like a familiar approach, it’s because it is.
Back in February, the New York Knicks negotiated with the Dallas Mavericks so that DeAndre Jordan was included in the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster. At the time, the Knicks saw Jordan as the lead recruiter in bringing Durant to the Big Apple. New York’s grand scheme also included the aforementioned Kyrie Irving as co-star next to Durant.
Well, consider that plan hijacked. With Irving reportedly hooked to Nets basketball, adding Jordan to the equation would be yet another sign that Brooklyn is committed to Durant’s interests—even amidst the uncertainty regarding his ruptured Achilles tendon.
Surrounding Durant with multiple confidants during a difficult time of recovery is a smart and thoughtful approach. But to DeAndre Jordan’s credit, he should be looked at as more than just bait to entice KD.
From a basketball perspective, Jordan fills multiple needs for the Nets; namely, he’s a big-bodied backup who could handle the monstrous centers in the East.
Brooklyn’s starting center Jarrett Allen had a miraculous season in 2018-2019, establishing himself as one of the better shot blockers in the association. However, the postseason exposed the gaping holes in his game — most of which were related to his rail-thin frame. Allen struggled with handling All-Star center Joel Embiid during the first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
This is where Jordan provides immediate value to Brooklyn. The Eastern Conference is loaded with bruisers on potential playoff rosters: Andre Drummond, Embiid, Marc Gasol, the beefed-up Myles Turner, and potentially, Nikola Vucevic (if he re-signs in Orlando). That’s a lot of guys who could give the slender Jarrett Allen trouble. Consider Jordan to be the ultimate release valve in this regard.
Adding Jordan to the roster would likely mean the end of Ed Davis‘ tenure as a Net. Davis — a fan favorite in Brooklyn — was key to the Nets through his rebounding, playoff defense, and leadership.
DeAndre Jordan could do a credible job at replacing Davis’ impact. As a Knick, Jordan’s 3.3 offensive rebounds per game ranked 11th in the association. He was even better on the defensive glass, grabbing a fourth-best 9.8 defensive boards per contest.
Jordan’s defense has declined since winning Defensive Player of the Year twice in a row (in 2015 & 2016). However, he’s still a solid shot blocker who posted a 1.1 block average last season. At 6-foot-11, 265 pounds, Jordan is considerably larger than any player on Brooklyn’s roster. That in itself is an attractive trait to the undersized Nets.
Offensively speaking, DeAndre is still a killer in the pick-and-roll. Jordan ranked within the 91st percentile as roller, scoring an elite 1.33 points per possession. That punch as a roll-man would fit Kenny Atkinson‘s PnR-heavy offense like a glove. It could greatly open up spacing for Brooklyn’s shooters.
Perhaps best of all is Jordan’s playoff experience. Not long ago, Jordan was the star third banana to the Lob City Clippers — a team that advanced to the playoffs for six straight seasons. During his time in LA, Jordan learned countless valuable lessons through humiliating defeats (see: blown 3-1 lead versus the Houston Rockets) and inspiring victories (see: 7-game series win against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs).
While his age (31 in July) and reliance on declining athleticism are certainly concerning, his connection to Durant and snug fit in Atkinson’s system makes Jordan worth a look for the Nets. In perhaps the biggest summer of the franchise’s history, every move counts. Even the small ones.