DeAndre Jordan highlights

Check out some of new Maverick DeAndre Jordan's career highlights!

For years, Mavericks big men have been among the very best at finishing in the pick-and-roll. Today, they got even better.

DeAndre Jordan has been one of the league’s most prolific finishers in the NBA since arriving on the scene in 2008. He’s shot below 63 percent from the field just one time in his career, and he shot above 70 percent in three out of the last four seasons. During the 2017-18 campaign, he threw down more dunks (212) than the entire San Antonio Spurs roster (192).

More importantly, Jordan has been one of the league’s most terrifying roll men of the last half-decade. His partnership with Chris Paul in Los Angeles was simply not fair; Paul could put the ball wherever he wanted, and Jordan could pull it down from the rafters if he had to. Last season as Paul left and the Clippers began a roster overhaul, his shooting percentage dipped to a modest (by his standards) 64.5 percent, but he was still an elite lob target. Of the 65 NBA players who recorded at least 100 possessions as the roll man in the pick-and-roll, Jordan ranked fifth in efficiency, scoring 1.253 points per possession and shooting a whopping 68.5 percent on 124 shots.

The most attentive Mavs fans will remember that Dwight Powell is one of the four players who ranked ahead of Jordan on that list. Last season, Powell was the most efficient roll man in the entire NBA. Now, Jordan is joining him. That means that, if Rick Carlisle chooses, he could have one of the top-five roll men and most unstoppable lob targets in the league on the floor at all times. Jordan will now catch lobs from Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic, and J.J. Barea. After seeing how Powell played last season, it’s hard to even imagine what Jordan might be capable of.

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It’s difficult to understate how smoothly Jordan could fit in right away with what the Mavs want to do on offense. Dallas runs more pick-and-roll than just about anyone, and big men here constantly get buckets in those situations. The Mavs have ranked top-10 in roll man efficiency each of the last six seasons, according to Synergy Sports, but aside from Tyson Chandler, the Mavs haven’t had another All-Star-caliber center during that time. Jordan made his first All-Star team in 2017, just six months after he played in his first Olympics (with new Mavs teammate Harrison Barnes, by the way). Jordan has a nearly unrivaled résumé as a Mavericks center. He’s set to join the likes of Chandler, Powell, and Brandan Wright as some of the best roll men in the league in one of the best systems for that kind of player.

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Since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, every player who has played true center for the Mavericks has combined to use 1,582 possessions in which they set a screen and roll to the rim or slip the screen and roll to the rim, per Synergy. In those opportunities, they’ve scored 1.28 points per possession, which is a very solid mark. Jordan, however, has scored 1.397 points per possession in his 736 possessions in the same scenario, which is outrageously good. Powell, by comparison, has scored an astonishing 1.466 points per possession in that time. However, most of those chances have come against second units; Jordan has consistently dominated starters for longer stretches. No matter how you slice it, though, having one of those two on the floor for an entire game is going to give opposing coaching staffs nightmares, and it’s sure to open up better looks for the Mavs’ shooters. Last season, the Clippers shot 36.4 percent from deep with Jordan on the floor, per NBA Stats, and just 33.4 percent when he sat — the lowest mark of any player on the team. In fact, the Clippers have shot better from beyond the arc with Jordan on the floor than when he sat every single season of his career, even predating the Paul era.

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Jordan isn’t only a shooter-friendly big man, though. He makes life easier for his point guards. As much as Paul’s playmaking helped elevate Jordan’s production toward the top of the league for his position, Jordan’s timing, hands, and catch radius make him the ideal lob target. The Mavericks’ two main playmakers this season will be 19 and 20 years old on opening night, so they could use a buddy with some experience who can make their jobs easier. Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews each shot above 40 percent on corner 3s last season; Matthews certainly fulfilled his end of the bargain during Dennis Smith Jr.’s rookie campaign, knocking down 44.9 percent of his 3s on passes from Smith, per NBA Stats. Smith and Doncic will further learn the ropes of NBA basketball while playing with some of the most point guard-friendly players of the last decade in Dirk Nowitzki and, now, Jordan. No matter who starts or who comes off the bench, that’s a pretty good pair of guys to play with at such a young age. Nowitzki’s shooting as generated assists for his teammates for ages now, and Jordan’s ability to make something out of literally nothing will give the two young playmakers another valuable security blanket in case no easier option presents itself or the pass goes a little awry.

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Jordan’s ability to finish at the rim will help transform the Mavs’ offense. Powell emerged as an elite rim-runner last season, and now Jordan adds another dangerous threat in that regard. He’s a tremendous rebounder, having led the NBA in defensive rebound percentage last season and is the active leader in career offensive rebound percentage, per Basketball-Reference. He gobbles up boards, which should help the Mavs on the offensive end in particular. Dallas infamously prefers transition defense over chasing second chances too hard, but Jordan is a one-man wrecking crew on the glass so the club will certainly get more bang for its buck when only sending one man to the boards.

The Mavericks will now have two young, talented, dynamic playmakers to break down defenses with a big man to find at the rim in space. Want to switch the pick-and-roll? OK, Jordan’s opposing defender will have to stay in front of Dennis Smith Jr., or Jordan or Harrison Barnes can score right over the top of the Smith’s man. Barnes also showed signs as a developing playmaker toward the end of last season, a skillset which could serve him well as he feasts on off-balance defenses after Smith and Jordan do their work seven seconds into the shot clock.

Jordan’s game is tailor-made for Rick Carlisle’s offense. He and Dwight Powell are now perhaps the most formidable 1-2 roll man punches in the NBA, with Barnes and of course Nowitzki also able to do their part in playing with Smith and Doncic. For those two youngsters, there aren’t many other big men in the NBA who can possibly make things as easy as Jordan projects to be able to, which will be huge not only for this season but also for many years to come. This is an investment in the now and for the future. By signing Jordan, the Mavericks have shown they’re committed to enabling their two young cornerstones and serious about winning games today. That’s going to be music to Mavs fans’ ears.

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