Season In Review: Eric Gordon

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Published: May 1, 2013
Eric Gordon

Ah, the mystery man himself.  Eric Gordon’s career as a Hornet has been shrouded in mystery, whether it be his attitude, on-court effectiveness, injury treatment, or any other matter.  I have been covering Gordon on a weekly basis for a while now, and here are my pieces, as well as my guest appearance on the podcast.

Mid-Season Review
Progress Report
Crunch-Time
Attention, Please
Sifting Through Fool’s Gold
Does the Screener Matter?

Eric Gordon Podcast

Career Statistics

Season Tm G MP FG FGA TS% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST TOV PTS
2008-09 LAC 78 34.3 5.3 11.6 59.3 1.7 4.3 38.9 3.8 4.5 85.4 2.6 2.8 2.1 16.1
2009-10 LAC 62 36.0 5.7 12.6 57.1 1.9 5.2 37.1 3.6 4.8 74.2 2.6 3.0 2.3 16.9
2010-11 LAC 56 37.7 7.6 16.9 56.6 1.9 5.2 36.4 5.1 6.2 82.5 2.9 4.4 2.7 22.3
2011-12 NOH 9 34.4 7.0 15.6 54.9 1.1 4.4 25.0 5.4 7.2 75.4 2.8 3.4 2.7 20.6
2012-13 NOH 42 30.1 5.6 13.9 52.3 1.3 4.1 32.4 4.5 5.3 84.2 1.8 3.3 2.8 17.0

The numbers highlighted in red indicate areas in which Gordon fell particularly short considering what he done previously.

His minutes per game was very low because the Hornets chose to cap his playing time to avoid injuries.  He missed almost half of the season, as he sat for the first 29 games of the season and then missed all but one of the back-to-backs that the Hornets played.

His TS%, 52.3, was the lowest of his career and will be explained in a later section.

Gordon’s 32.4% success rate on 3s is very low, and he has not shown an ability to hit 3s as a Hornet; however, the larger sample size present in his first 3 professional years indicates that perhaps Gordon’s shot will improve as he shakes off the rust.

His 1.8 rebounds per game average is troubling and will be addressed later.

Finally, Gordon turned the ball over 2.8 times per game.  This may not seem very high relative to his previous seasons, but when the fact that he posted his lowest minutes average of his career is considered, this number becomes discouraging.

Statistical Progressions

I tried to keep these images relatively small, so if you would like to see the full-size charts, just click on the images.

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The statistics do not indicate too much of a change in Gordon’s scoring rate.  Around game 6 or 7, Gordon hit his lowest rate of the season, which he quickly pulled up a few points.  Subsequently, Gordon hovered right around 20 points per 36 minutes, which is a fairly substantial average.  The cap on Gordon’s minutes prevented him from scoring as many points per game as he did in the two previous years, but his scoring rate was very similar.

 

Picture1

The trend in Gordon’s scoring efficiency very closely approximates that of his scoring rate.  His efficiency remained relatively stable as the season progressed, and he finished with a 52.3 True Shooting %, which is well below the averages that he posted in previous seasons.  This low percentage reflects what was visible during the games: Gordon was not finishing shots that he normally would make.

Strengths

You will notice that many of these categories, whether under strengths or weaknesses, are qualified.  Whether by an inability to remain consistent due to health, or an unwillingness to play 100% due to attitude, Gordon was very much two different players this season, and in most games we saw both sides of him.

Getting to the Rim
When Eric Gordon plays aggressively on offense, he is capable of getting to the rim at a near-elite level.  When his legs are under him, he possesses the necessary explosion to blow by his man.  As I mentioned in the podcast, there seems to be a high correlation between how quickly Gordon comes off of a pick and how successful the pick and roll winds up being.  He is ultra-quick when he chooses to be.

Earning Free Throws
This is a bona-fide NBA skill, and Gordon has it.  Despite being physically limited for much of the season, and also receiving limited minutes, Eric Gordon averaged the 14th most free throw attempts in the league.  He also excelled in converting his opportunities, as he made 85% of his free throws.

On-Ball Defense
When Eric Gordon wants to stop someone, he can.  His quickness, strength, and low center of gravity allow him to stay in front of his defender at a high level. His excellent wingspan (6-9) also helps in this regard.  Jerry Colangelo mentioned this summer that Gordon was Team USA’s best on-ball defender, and although this statement is probably a stretch, Gordon is certainly a good defender.

Finding Anthony Davis
Davis is going to be a rare offensive weapon. He is an excellent finisher at the rim, but he also possesses excellent touch for a young big and looks like he will have a very nice pick and pop game.  Gordon is not an extraordinary passer, but he was easily the best guard at finding Davis with passes out of pick and rolls.  Often, if opposing teams would play Ice (meaning they would force Gordon away from the screener), Gordon would split the two defenders with a pass and put Davis in good position to score.

Chasing around Screens
Gordon, for many of the reasons listed in the preceding section, is very good at chasing his man around screens, which is a pivotal skill for a guard.  Whether he is defending a point guard or shooting guard, Gordon has the capability to stick with his man around a screen or a complex series of screens.  His agility, quickness, and strength play a major role in this.  I can only remember one instance in which Gordon struggled to chase someone around screens, and it was while defending John Wall of the Washington Wizards.

Weaknesses

Injuries
Eric Gordon’s injury history shows that he is unable to stay healthy consistently, and these injuries don’t just impact the games he misses.  Recovery from injuries, particularly knee injuries, can take a while, and Gordon never quite got back to the level he showed in the 9 games of his inaugural Hornets season.

Shot selection
Gordon is not a good shooter for his position, and he bails out opponents too often by taking bad jumpers.  Casually pulling up for a jumper exerts no pressure on a defense and gives teammates little chance at grabbing offensive rebounds (see Attention, Please).

Off-Ball Defense
Gordon, though a talented on-ball defender, is a below-average defender while playing off of the ball.  He is very focused on his man, which is good, but he is too focused.  He stays glued to his man, but he needs to be more attentive and help his teammates on rotations.

Rebounding
Eric Gordon is a horrible rebounder.  He is not exactly built to be pulling in double-doubles every night, but someone with his quickness and athleticism should be able to grab more than 1.8 rebounds in 30 minutes of play.  He is caught ball-watching much of the time, with no regard to boxing out his man or another man.  He also is not leaking out on the break either, so there is no good reason for such a low number.

Overall

Gordon’s injury woes to start the season put a damper on what many fans expected to be a better year for New Orleans.  He returned to the court out of shape (which should be expected after an injury) and never appeared to be 100%.  Rather, he showed glimpses of the player he used to be, often starting games strong and disappearing down the stretch. His efficiency took a huge hit, and this was the first season in his career that could be classified as “inefficient.” He got into an argument with Coach Monty Williams (@ Utah) following what Williams believed was lackluster defensive effort, and he was benched for the rest of the game.

Gordon’s name was also floated in trade rumors near the deadline, and he was linked to a Golden State Warriors trade featuring Klay Thompson.  Whether or not negotiations were actually being made is irrelevant, because the Pelicans organization has changed their tune regarding Gordon’s future. General Manager Dell Demps, when asked if Gordon would remain a Pelican, answered that the organization will listen to any offers that could possibly make the team better. This information doesn’t necessarily indicate that Gordon will be traded, but it is a far cry from the organization’s statements last summer about Eric Gordon as a foundational piece.

The front office has consistently reiterated that they want players who want to be here, and Eric Gordon has never seemed too happy in New Orleans. However, he is certainly not the villain that some fans paint him as, and as long as he is on the roster, fans should support him.

Outlook

I mentioned in the podcast that I believe Eric Gordon, in an injury-free world, will get back to his former level.  He is a very talented player, and the Houston Rockets play I mentioned in the same podcast can be seen at roughly 35 seconds into the video (below). This play shows you how much talent Gordon has; in fact, several of these plays are extremely difficult.

With that in mind, Gordon has also shown that he cannot stay healthy, and that poses a major problem.  He is paid an exorbitant amount of money, and if he is going to be part of the Pelican franchise future, he needs to be on the court.  The Pelicans are a small-market team who have a lot of cap space tied up in him and cannot afford to have him wearing suits on the sideline.

Check out the entire Season in Review series here at Hornets247.com.

16 comments
mateor
mateor

I consider the opinion that EG is too much of an injury risk to retain as being fairly unassailable at this point. But it doesn't mean it is true, and is a pretty bad mix with a simultaneous belief that he should return assets on the open market. I understood when they traded Tyson Chandler, I did. I hated our return though, because no matter what we did or how he played, Emeka was part of the long term future of the franchise. It took a Wizard's miracle to change that. So the lessons are not at all clear. Tyson couldn't crack the rotation in Charlotte a couple years after we traded him. If you are going to going to compare EG to Amare, well getting rid of Amare would cost a top-five pick. But one thing is for sure, if we can get rid of years of Ariza (truly one of the worst basketball products ever put out to court, that last year of Ariza and co. It was so disheartening to think we had years left) then anything is possible. What sort of trade would I expect? Granger and Lance Stephsenson, maybe. Not that I have run the numbers. Somebody similarly risky or a short-timer from a team with no leverage. I expect him to stay and get seriously shopped next deadline.

houp garou
houp garou

While so many are ready to part with eg for " a bag of chips", I continue to be tantalized not just by the stretches he's had (mostly last season) where he's been unguardable, but mainly by the idea of his length along with ad and a porter /afa rotation causing defensive nightmares for the opponent. the mystery to me is the health concerns which for the longest, I thought to be exaggerated to aid the tank season. when you watch his subpar (for him) play this year, you have to wonder about what is nagging him whether it be a physical concern or an attitudinal one (is he just being careless because he doesn't care?) of course this is further shrouded by the way the lauded phoenix staff thought his health was fine enough to justify his current contract. I guess I'm just a dreamer and I hope he gets it together as a pel so we can focus on the 1 and the 3 of the future. If that is not the case and we move him then I hope we pick oladipo so that defensive vision can still come to fruition.

Jared
Jared

If only he played every night with hustle and intensity. I saw him at times and he had some really bright moments. But for most of the season, it was disappointing. If we can get rid of him and get value-awesome. But if we can get him to come back and buy into the system, even better. I think Gerry V said on a podcast a few months back that Gordon could really thrive if he was with a solid veteran who was a great leader. In other words, he could be a good Robin but maybe not a good Batman. His story will no doubt be a hot topic going forward.

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