CHICAGO -- DeAndre Jordan has gotten over being snubbed as an All-Star, but Doc Rivers said it would be a crime worthy of an investigation if he was also snubbed for the defensive player of the year award.
In fact, if Jordan was able to post better offensive numbers, there's no reason in Rivers' eyes he shouldn't be part of the MVP conversation.
"He's clearly the defensive player of the year," Rivers said Sunday. "If anybody else gets that award, we need to have an investigation. What he’s doing defensively, if he was doing that offensively, he would be recognized as the MVP or one of them, but because it's defense, no one notices."
Jordan started his 300th consecutive game on Sunday, the longest active streak in the NBA, but it wasn't until Blake Griffin was sidelined with a staph infection in his right elbow three weeks ago that Jordan received the attention Rivers felt was long overdue for the Clippers' 26-year-old center.
"He gets every rebound," Rivers said. "And when he doesn't get it, it takes two guys to keep him off and allows the other guys to get rebounds. He's clearly very important for us."
In the Clippers' 96-86 win over the Chicago Bulls Sunday, Jordan had nine points and 26 rebounds. It was his eighth straight game with at least 15 rebounds, which is the longest streak of any player in the NBA this season. Jordan’s first game in March simply built on a career-best month of February, during which he averaged 16 points and 17.2 rebounds, becoming one of only three players since the 1985-86 season to average those numbers in a single month.
"You start to take him for granted. I know I do," Chris Paul said. "There's times where I have to sit back and realize I've never a played a game as a Clipper without him. As much as I'm on him sometimes, it's because I trust him and believe in him. I know I take him for granted. I couldn't imagine playing without him."
Jordan currently leads the NBA in field goal percentage (72.0) and rebounds per game (14.2) and ranks third in blocks per game (2.3). His field goal percentage is the second-highest single-season mark in NBA history, and only six players since 1985-86 have averaged at least 14.2 rebounds for a full season. In the Clippers' win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, Jordan recorded 15 points, 22 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals in 41 minutes to become one of only three players (Dwight Howard and David Robinson) since 1985-86 to reach those totals in as few minutes played.
When the Clippers went 13-6 while Paul was down last season, Griffin catapulted his way into the MVP conversation, finishing third behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James. The Clippers have now won six of their past eight without Griffin, including wins over Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Memphis and Chicago, and Paul is now getting more MVP recognition.
The one constant during both of their absences, however, has been Jordan. The fact that the Clippers have been able to weather the storm and actually improve their place in the standings while their star has been out is a direct result of Jordan's stabilizing influence on defense.
"There's nobody like him in our league," Paul said. "To do what he does every night at that size -- and he's young, too.
"You look at the stat sheet and you don't see how many times Aaron Brooks didn't drive because D.J. was there or how many shots where guys went up and they passed it. That doesn't show up on the stat sheet."
Over the past eight games without Griffin, Jordan has averaged 17.2 points and 20.5 rebounds per game and the Clippers have gone 6-2 and moved up to fifth in the West.
"It doesn't change anything for me," Jordan said. "It doesn’t matter. They [voters] don't like big guys. It's fine."
Jordan has even found a way to survive the increased amount of intentional fouls he gets late in games. He hit four of eight free throws in the fourth quarter on Sunday as the Clippers' lead went from three to eight before Chicago stopped fouling.
On Friday, he made four trips to the line in a 53-second span late in the fourth quarter and converted five of his eight attempts, extending the Clippers' lead by three points. Since Feb. 11, Jordan has increased the Clippers' lead in four of the six instances in which he has been intentionally fouled on two or more consecutive possessions. The Clippers are 9-0 in the nine career games in which Jordan has tallied 14 or more free throw attempts.
"I know it's going to happen throughout the rest of the season and the playoffs," Jordan said. "I can't run away from it. I just have to continue practicing my free throws. I know it's going to come. Whenever I see someone running full speed at me, I know it's about to start, but it's nothing I shy away from."
When Rivers became the Clippers coach, he said his expectation was for Jordan to become the defensive player of the year. It seemed like a lofty and almost unrealistic goal at the time but one that now is not only attainable but should be a lock, in Rivers' opinion.
"I would definitely be excited about that," Jordan said of winning the award. "It's definitely an individual goal of mine, but the ultimate goal is to win a championship. I'll just let my play do the talking."