While he expressed eagerness to play with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook this season, it was a player DeAndre Jordan studied in his younger days in Dwight Howard that he singled out first.
Even with a career littered with teammates that have often ranked among the best in the league, there’s one name that DeAndre Jordan singled out for a special reason as a teammate he’s most excited to team up with in Los Angeles this season.
Despite being separated in age by only two-and-a-half years, the varied careers of Dwight Howard and Jordan meant the latter watched the former’s NBA career while still in high school. The first three years of Howard’s career coincided with Jordan’s high school days, leading Jordan to study Howard’s game.
“Obviously as a big, when I was in high school, a guy that I watched all the time was Dwight Howard,” Jordan said during his introductory press conference. “And obviously we never had a chance to be teammates before, but I competed against him a ton when he was in Orlando and a couple other teams, and it’s been great being able to see him, and now we’re teammates, and it’s awesome.”
It’s easy to see how Jordan’s playing style was framed after Howard’s game, as both are tall, athletic leapers who made careers on the back of high-flying dunks and controlling the boards offensively and defending the rim defensively. The like-minded skillsets for the pairing will provide the Lakers the ability to interchange the two bigs similar to Howard and JaVale McGee two seasons ago.
But while Howard was the first name he mentioned, Superman was not the lone teammate Jordan expressed excitement to play alongside.
“Obviously guys like LeBron, Russ and AD, being opponents of these guys for so long, and especially Russ and AD in the Western Conference, I was there for so long, seeing those guys three or four times a year,” Jordan said. “Russ coming downhill angrily aggressive every time was very was tough. And now I can see what it’s like to be a teammate with this guy, and now I don’t have to contest him at the rim every night.
“AD is the same way. His skill set is so very high, and he can score on three different planes of the basketball floor, and be able to be a great defender. Being able to have (a guy like) that next to you is awesome. And LeBron has been a winner in this league for a long time while being able to orchestrate offenses and defenses, being a team leader out there and someone who was a leader and a winner throughout his career,” Jordan continued. “Now being able to be a teammate with that high of a basketball IQ and that unselfish of a player like that, I’m excited to be teammates with all of those guys.”
Jordan will be returning to a city he has experience playing in, but for a different franchise and alongside a whole host of new teammates. Based on his reaction on Thursday, though, it sounds like the veteran big man has plenty of excitement and eagerness to continue to learn a new role and situation in L.A. this season in purple and gold.