Back in September, when the Nets signed Jordan to a training camp deal, I wrote that there was no harm in having a fall back option to the Lopez-Garnett-Plumlee trio. But now, with Lopez already expected to miss the season opener, and Jordan performing like that player that set conference records in college, Jordan has to be at least have gained an inside track on a job. That's all the seven footer, who was a member of the 2013 All NBA D-League Third Team, can hope for.
“I hope I had an equal shot by just coming here, trying to work hard in practice every day and hopefully the coaches see that and give me a chance,” Jordan told Mike Mazzeo on Sunday. “It’s been two years [since his last NBA experience, a tenure with the Knicks],” he said. “I’ve grown a little bit. I have an opportunity here to play and show what I can do, so I’m trying to make the most of it.”
In Sunday's loss to Boston, Jordan played 23 minutes and raised some eyebrows. He was perfect on his seven field goal attempts, shot 3-of-4 from the line, and grabbed six rebounds. The 17 point performance certainly made an impression on me, even if it was in a meaningless preseason game. Fortunately for Jordan, it did not go unnoticed by Lionel Hollins either.
“Jerome who,” Lionel Hollins said after the game. “I thought that was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out there.”
Kidding aside, it seems like Hollins has liked what he has seen for Jordan so far. What's not to like? A big body with a ton of athleticism, Jordan is the kind of player the Nets are looking for in the youth movement era, and Hollins seems to think he can be a good complimentary piece if given the chance.
“I like the kid. I’ve had him before [in 2012 camp with Memphis], and I’m pulling for him,” said Hollins. “But he’s gotta earn it. He made a step in that direction tonight. He did what we asked, he scored more than we expected, but he was trying to guard the basket and he had a couple blocked shots.”
Is Jordan the answer to every problem the Nets have? No, but he could certainly help out in some problem areas. Most notably, the Nets were an awful rebounding team last season, and Billy King is worried that won't improve for 2014-15. Having Jordan in the mix to come off the bench would help, particularly for a second unit that has more scorers than rebounders. The other point of contention is health, or the lack there of. Brook Lopez is out, and the Nets are optimistic his foot strain won't keep him out longer than a few weeks, but I don't think the Nets can afford to take a chance and cut someone of Jordan's size. Let's not forget, Kevin Garnett also had injury problems last year and he didn't get younger, and there's no Andray Blatche to turn to off the bench this year if Mason Plumlee is called upon to start at some point.
So while the Nets mull their options, Jordan is only thinking about what he has to do to get better.
“I think there’s always room for improvement,” Jordan said on Sunday. “But I think I showed a little bit of everything on the defensive end, rebounding and blocking shots. I feel like if I get picked, those will be the things I’ll do. I need to just keep doing that and whatever I can contribute on the offensive end would be a plus.”
At 28, Jordan isn't a game changer, but his presence on the Nets roster could certainly keep a lot of minds at ease. Time will tell if he'll get his shot.