Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan make up a huge chunk of the Clippers' star power and salary cap. They are undeniably the front court core of their future. But last season, despite subtle improvement from both players, there was a lot of criticism because the two didn't make bigger jumps. Additionally, Jordan's free throw shooting was so horrendous (39 percent from the line!) that he rarely played in the fourth quarter of games from fear of a hack-a-Shaq strategy with him.
Jordan and Griffin only played 109 minutes across 27 games last season in the fourth quarter together. At media day, ClipsNation reports that new head coach Doc Rivers made it clear that strategy would be changing under his watch.
Doc went out of his way to say that he plans to have Griffin and DeAndre Jordan on the floor in the fourth quarter. This is an example of him giving an honest, unguarded answer to a question. Talk is cheap of course and we'll see what he actually does, but I love the fact that he's willing to put it out there, to set an expectation. It would be so easy for him to into coach-speak: "Each situation is different, we'll have to wait and see what happens, we're going to play the right way." He didn't do that. He said "I want Griffin and Jordan on the floor."
Now, it's media day, and all kinds of coaches have all kinds of ideas about what they're going to do that will never, ever work out. But the Clippers let a lot of their front court depth go this offseason, and it's really just Ryan Hollins and Byron Mullens behind Jordan. Doc's not going to have a whole lot of better options than putting Jordan out there.
If he can get back to even a 53 percent mark in the fourth quarter, that's probably enough to stave off the tactic. Losing one point per posession is a rough enough mark to get you to back off, and the tactic only works in short stretches anyway. The bigger issue, honestly, for Jordan is getting better at weak-side rotations and becoming a better rim protector. If he can become a more cerebral defender, he'll be a presence enough to warrant playing time late in games.
If not, Rivers may have to get awfully inventive with the wing-heavy roster he has.