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.

Picture2

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.

17 comments
xman20002000
xman20002000

So the subject is EG and commentary is almost completely negative... Looks like the Suns would have been a poor decision looking at the team. It appears no one is talking about Phoenix but the press... It's over but we continue to ride with the negative but what is positive about EG.... But if you wish to compare EG's career and behavior lets look at his boy Derrick Rose who has been cleared to practice and play but he is going through an unexplainable period of not playing, although cleared, and the team is in the hunt... What's up with doing it for the team... But beyond the health issue is the team EG is playing on... So what about Andrew Bynum's injury... Point being injuries are a part of the game but the crime appears these guys have these unGodly contracts, get injured and it is what it is... Kevin Love.. was injured... Kobe is injured... But this guy... In reality he needs someone to play along with... A team like Boston could sorely use him... Let's just keep what we have... and work with it... of course we expect a turnover as a matter of course...

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

http://hoopshype.com/salaries/new_orleans.htm As a (sort of) aside, can I say what a thing of beauty our salary situation is, all those team options littering the page with red, all those zeroes beside the players whose course has run out (except afa, bring him back!) and who allowed us to shed our old contracts, only full salaried players are all on value deals excepting eg ( why I said sorta aside, couldn't make my above argument for patience if our salary situation wasn't so rosy everywhere else), long live dell!

houp garou
houp garou

Mateor, You say the need to trade eg now is unassailable then make an argument with okafor that is counter to that notion and expresses my feelings- we should not feel obliged to trade him if the returns are not something that is really suited to our rebuilding process. The one part of my argument that none seems to refute is that eg riding pine is not the end of the world as we are rebuilding and that allows our recent rookies more pt. we're not winning a championship this year. I'd rather him sit than bring back pieces that we are not 100 % satisfied with, and I'm certainly not giving anyone assets to take him. Of course him sitting is not what I want just worst case scenario with an extremely positive flip side.

mateor
mateor

I tend to your way of thinking myself, but I just wanted to say that there aren't any logical holes in the argument that his injury history makes him too great a risk. I can't think of anything that would change that person's mind. I had felt that way with Tyson, and even though he turned out to have a great career left in him, I don't think you can really say the Hornets were wrong to trade him. Well, they ended up being wrong, I guess, but the process was completely understandable. The Thunder's docs wouldn't even take him. With Eric Gordon, I personally just have this deep inside suspicion that some of this injury history might not have been stretched out so long if he had been happier. Controversial statement, I know. What can I say, I am a believer in body language. I think that perhaps it has finally been made clear to him that he will have to play his way out of town. I hope he does.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

I used Amar'e as an example of what happens when someone can't stay healthy and has a big contract. I don't think Gordon is there, but I think he is one major injury away from being there. I never use the word "untradeable" or "impossible." I replied to an earlier comment saying that I think we could get a minor haul for Gordon. Gauging trade value is not my specialty, but the trade you proposed seems reasonable, and I'd take it. It is no certainty that Gordon is gone this offseason, just something that I think will be seriously looked at.

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.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

The true answer is that no one knows how Gordon will hold up physically. The problem is that we have a franchise player in Davis, and while we should be able to keep him for another 7-8 years due to his current contract and RFA or extension, we are still on the clock. If Gordon gets seriously hurt again, we will have a contract on our books that will be extremely hard to get rid of, and there goes 2-3 years of the Davis timeframe. Even that concern would be slightly alleviated by Gordon just making more of an effort to show that he wants to be here, but he's never gone out of his way to make that known. I understand that he's an understated guy, but even so, he still has shown almost no desire to be in NO. It's okay to be optimistic. It's a good quality to have as a fan. But I think we need to force ourselves to see the injury concerns objectively and move on while we still can. Until then, yes, we should cheer for Gordon.

houp garou
houp garou

http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=bwbagtz If you want to take on a couple dead salaries, how bout offering sota a future first to help them with their cap disaster and swap oft Injured stars. Understand this one is unlikely but don't think they hang up, especially as I think love's relationship with them has soured.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

one of those teams is Phoenix, which also thought it worthwhile to throw 3 yrs/18 million at Michael Beasley. Whose coach was fired in the middle of the year. Whose GM was just fired. Eric Gordon has missed significant time in 4 of the first 5 years of his career. Tyson, conversely, only missed significant time in 1 of his first 7. I understand that you want to take the risk and ride it out. Like I said, I think, without injury, he can return to previous form. But history has shown us that he has been unable to avoid injury, and there's a big difference in holding onto an injury-prone player making 5 million and 14-15 million (see Amar'e Stoudemire). That's too big of a risk for me given how much time Gordon is riding pine in a suit and how much $ he's making.

houp garou
houp garou

I don't buy the Tyson chandler argument that we should trade an effective player for less effective players with questionable or bad contracts on the fear of future injury. If anything there was more justification with Tyson as we were in win now mode, which we are clearly not in. It just strings out the rebuilding a little bit if Gordon takes a turn for the worse. On the other hand, the upside for us is great if we are patient and he turns it around because as Kobe & wade fade, there are practically no all star caliber sg out there. Look at what aflalo and batum were paid. 2teams at least (I'm quite sure he did-would have gotten other offers) were happy to pay him at his current rate one offseason ago. His value has cooled after a down year but its important to keep in perspective that we were still in tank mode so I'm sure he was able to do more than what we asked of him. I think we have too much to gain by seeing if comes back to form before just throwing him in the trash.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

I don't necessarily see him as a liability quite yet. I think you could get something for him, it'd just be a very minor haul. I consider a liability a player who you have to give up something to get rid of. But I absolutely agree w/ you that we should unload him now. As for expiring contracts, I don't see that as a problem. Those are actually decent trade pieces if another team is looking to unload someone or rebuild, and at worst you get cap space at the end of the year. Not ideal, but better than knowing your highest-paid player (who could have sustained another injury) is now a huge liability on your books.

504ever
504ever

I think Gordon is a trade liability now. If Gordon has the exact same season next year he has this year and Golden State offers me the expiring contracts of Biedrins and Rush for Gordon (cap numbers fit), I'd take it. [In fact, if I was offered this at the 2012-13 season trade deadline and both contracts were expiring this year (summer 2013) I would have taken it.] If you do the trade now the problem is you have to hold onto those two expiring contracts for a year. And so you have to weigh the likelihood of Gordon's stock going up and down next year. If it goes up you can get better, including keeping Gordon, if it goes down you eat $14.5M/year through the 2015-16 season. The later is way too much risk for me. So I ship Gordon out as soon as I can and clear cap space.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

I don't see Gordon as much of an asset right now, and another injury puts him as someone who would probably need to be packaged with an asset just to let him go. As in, he is a liability. My question to you is this: if Eric Gordon were a free agent today, would you sign him to the contract that he has? For me, the answer is no, and as his value can take another hit with injury, I say get rid of him before it's too late. We may not have a high ceiling without Gordon, but if we get rid of him, I believe we can make moves to considerably raise our floor. Dell can use that financial flexibility

houp garou
houp garou

The key is that the 2-3 years that you speak of have a very limited window anyway if we move eg, especially if we don't get close to equal value in return. What would you view as our ceiling in that time period without him? There is such a dearth of quality shooting guards in the league right now, especially ones that play two ways well above average ( you can't name more than 2 or 3). I'm aware that the odds are not extremely high that his attitude and/or body will hold up next year. But the demand for a player is so great that I'm willing to roll the dice to see if our lucky number comes up or at least to see if he can't improve his trade stock quite a bit to the point where's he worth more than a bag of chips. Because of the lack of 2's out there this is not an unlikely scenario. Until the Pelicans have 100 times more cache around the league than we have now, we can not afford to squander our best assets for nothing.

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.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

Seemed like a mix of not wanting to be that player and getting back in game form after the injury. Could also be that he overestimates the ability of his jumper, I don't know. But yeah, when he's engaged, he can flat out play. I agree that Gordon could be a Robin, and as I said, I fully believe he's talented enough to be a great scoring option.. the issue, of course, is that another injury or two could permanently limit how explosive he can be.

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