And then Jordan went and proved his coach right.
Jordan had 16 points on six-for-nine shooting, eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals in 21 minutes 11 seconds during the Clippers' 89-81 victory over Portland.
He even had success at the free-throw line, making four of five.
"It's a fresh start not only for myself, but everybody here," Jordan said. "With his philosophy, we start on defense first. I'm a defensive player and I want to become a better defensive player. I'm just taking on this challenge, that's all."
Jordan was the most active player on the Moda Center court Monday night.
And he was that way from the very beginning, getting a steal and then running on the fastbreak that ended with Jordan throwing down a dunk.
There was the time when Jordan helped out on defense and then recovered to block a shot by his man, Portland center Robin Lopez.
That was just a small sampling of how Jordan played, leaving Rivers to say his center was "terrific."
"He was dominant on his end," Rivers said. "He controlled the game by single-handedly with his defense and his energy and his talk."
Green steps in again
Once again, Willie Green can be depended upon to be the Clippers' stand-in man.
When starting shooting guard J.J. Redick couldn't play because of a bruised left quadriceps, Green started at that position.
"There are certain things you don't have control over as a basketball player," said Green, who had 14 points. "But you go out with the mentality that you are going to compete, you're going to play as hard as you can and when the opportunity is presented, you try to take advantage of it."
Green started 60 games last season when Chauncey Billups was recovering from injuries.
Green averaged 6.3 points on 46.1% shooting last season with the Clippers.
"I just want to continue to go out and be the best teammate that I can be and be the best player that I can be as well," Green said.
Like last season, Green never complained during training camp.
"He's a valuable player to have on your team on the floor," Rivers said. "His value is huge off the floor, too, because he just does his job every day. If he plays 40 minutes, he plays them well. If he plays zero minutes, he's a very good teammate."
Matt Barnes (sore left calf) and Reggie Bullock (sore right knee) didn't play against Portland.