DeAndre Jordan hasn’t missed a game due to injury in his entire 10-year NBA career, a pretty remarkable streak for anyone, let alone a gigantic behemoth of a man. That streak has now ended: Jordan suffered an extremely nasty-looking ankle injury Thursday night against the Kings, and is not playing in Saturday’s tilt against, well, also the Kings.
Since the 2008-2009 season—his rookie season—only Courtney Lee (719 games) has played more regular season games than Jordan’s 714. Jordan’s played more total games, owed to his 57 career playoff games, and Jordan is also six inches and like 60 pounds bigger than Lee. The Clippers have dealt with way more than their fair share of injuries this season: Blake Griffin has missed 16 games; Danilo Gallinari has missed 30; Patrick Beverley has also missed 30. That’s three-fifths of their intended starting lineup, and three fourths of their complement of bona fide starting-caliber talent. Through it all, the Clippers have fought their way to a 20-21 record and the ninth spot in the West, just a game and a half back of the 5th seed. The timing on this is just shitty and unfair.
The Clippers have thrust Willie Reed into the starting lineup in Jordan’s place. Reed can play a little defense and slide into the dunker spot, but Jordan is one of the most intimidating rim protectors in basketball, and perhaps no player in NBA history creates more spacing for his teammates by being able to jump high and throw down insane alley-oops. Just when the Clippers got back enough depth to throw together a decent starting lineup, they lose the most durable big man in the the last decade of NBA basketball. This blows.