Wednesday September 14th, 2016

Every year, Jordan seems to clarify his understanding of when and how to use size to his advantage. It’s more difficult to bait him out of position now than it was a year ago—his bad tendencies whittled down through experience. Jordan will never be the picture of defensive discipline, but slowly he’s grown into the kind of consistent interior presence that can carry a contending-level defense. His influence begins with the fact that players prefer not to challenge him. Clippers opponents attempted 3.5 fewer shots at the rim per 36 minutes last season when Jordan played, according to Nylon Calculus—one of the widest margins in the league. Jordan’s liftoff is so quick and his reach so wide that he reshapes the thinking behind an otherwise ideal shot attempt. That’s power—especially now that Jordan is staying down more often and positioning himself more effectively. Jordan wouldn’t be ranked where he is on this list, though, if not for his offense. Anything more than a few dribbles veers outside his comfort zone. Jordan took just 46 shots (out of 508) last season outside the restricted area and four outside the paint, converting poorly on all of them. He doesn’t pass well and costs his team points whenever he’s fouled. What Jordan does do is dunk nearly every ball he touches within range of the basket, and work himself within that range with a dogged persistence. Uncanny athleticism gives Jordan more physical space to work with than nearly every other player he comes up against. An easy finish is so often only a lob pass away; being able to jump higher and run faster than nearly every other center in the league gives Jordan access to a different plane. Defenses have little choice but to treat his cuts and rolls as imminent threats. His gravity can pull three defenders out of position and thus out of their scheme without Jordan ever touching the ball. (Last year: No. 29)

+ Shot 83.6% off of paint touches last season—which doesn’t include those possessions in which opponents hopelessly fouled
+ One of the game’s most committed and prolific defensive rebounders
Awful enough free throw shooter that he costs himself playing time
Limited offensive range makes him very dependent on playmakers

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