DeAndre Jordan denied NBA defensive honor: 'I guess I need to improve'

DeAndre Jordan denied NBA defensive honor: 'I guess I need to improve'
San Antonio's Tim Duncan (21) battles for rebound position with Clippers DeAndre Jordan (6) and Matt Barnes on Sunday. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

DeAndre Jordan came in third in the voting for this season's NBA defensive player of the year award, behind Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green. Before Friday's shootaround in advance of Game 3 of the Clippers' first-round playoff series against San Antonio, Jordan said he's used to being overlooked.

"I finished third last year, so it was cool," Jordan said. "I guess I need to improve a lot. But I'm happy for Kawhi, this has been a great year for him, the defending champions. He's a great defender, man. There's a lot of guys who could say they deserve the award, you know, Draymond Green. I'm really happy for Kawhi, you can't take anything away from him, he's a great defender."

When Jordan was passed over for the award last season, he said he was going to use that as motivation. This time around, he said it's just rolled off his back.

"I'm not really thinking about it anymore," Jordan said. "At this point, I'm kind of over it because I can't control it. I can only control how hard I play. I'm happy, I've accepted a lot of things."

Jordan averaged 11.5 points on 71% shooting, 2.2 blocked shots and a league-leading 15 rebounds a game this season. Leonard, who missed 18 games because of a torn ligament in his right hand, averaged 16.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 2.3 steals for the Spurs. Green averaged 11.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocked shots and 1.6 steals for the Warriors.

The Clippers are currently tied at 1-1 in their first-round playoff series against the Spurs. Game 3 is Friday in San Antonio at 6:30 p.m. PT. Jordan said he's focused on that game, not on anything else.

"I really dont care about any of that, any of the honors," Jordan said. "I just care about us winning a championship here. That's all I can control."

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers had said in March that if Jordan wasn't voted defensive player of the year this season, he'd launch an investigation.

On Friday, he seemed a bit more calm about Jordan not winning than he had imagined he'd be.

"Well, it was disappointing but Kawhi is a great defensive player as well, and so is Draymond Green," Rivers said. "Obviously I thought DJ, and I still do, he's the best defensive player, but you can't take anything away from any of those guys. All three are deserving and great."

Jordan, who has never won that award or made the All-Star team, said if he ends up receiving the recognition he wants, he'll be happy. If not, he's still confident in his game and his accomplishments.

"As long as I have the respect and things from my coaches, my peers, and other coaches around the league, that's all that really matters," Jordan said.