New Orleans Pelicans Top Charlotte Hornets, Eric Gordon Bottoming Out

Published: November 5, 2014

The New Orleans Pelicans played their first ever game against the Charlotte Hornets 100-91, and it was all it promised to be: fun, silly, entertaining, full of bad basketball, filled with chances to see Anthony Davis do his thing, and well worth the price of admission.

Going back to the questions posted pre-game:

  • Can Alexis Ajinca keep his fouling under control?
    • Nope. 5 minutes, 5 fouls. He’s been a foul machine. He’s a decent player otherwise, but he’s only a minus if he can’t stay on the court, and for many reasons.
  • How will Jimmer Fredette score his first field goal for the Pelicans?
    • I still have no idea. Dismissing little mistakes on defense, he sagged too much for my tastes. He did have a couple of nice moments. On offense, he set people up a couple of times who failed to knock down the shot, but he took 0 shots in 14 minutes. I can only surmise that he is trying to be a team player.
  • Is this the game where Tyreke Evans actually shoots a fireball, and (bonus) would that be a foul?
    • Tyreke had a great game despite a pair of early fouls that limited his minutes a bit. My favorite part of the game was the first of those fouls. He caught a long pass with just Kemba Walker between him and the basket. I was excited for the finish, but I was more excited to see Evans level him. Tyreke leveled him. I laughed.

I’m sure the other guys, and some of you, can go on and on about a number of things to see in this game alone or recent games as a batch. Me, I’m going to look very carefully at the recent play of Eric Gordon. Then, I’m going to complain.

Entering the night, basketball reference had 45 players entering night averaging at least 30 minutes per game that are described by them as guards of some type. Eric Gordon is in the bad half of this group of players in many categories, and much worse than that in too many.

Let’s start with the good and work our way down, again, entering this game:

  • Best 25%:
    • 0.7 blocks per game
  • Second 25%:
    • 1.3 steals per game
    • 4.3 rebounds per game
  • Third 25%:
    • 2.7 turnovers per game
    • 2.7 fouls per game
  • Worst 25%:
    • 6.3 points per game (2nd)
    • 0.3 assists per game (1st)
    • 1.3 free throws per game (1st)
    • 2.0 2P per game
    • 0.3 3P per game
    • 2.3 FG per game (tied 1st)

The above was based on 34.3 minutes per game, or 103 total minutes.

I know some people are going to balk at using per game stats, but they have a place . . . like when you are comparing what players give you in a game rather than comparing what players can give you, for example. Here, the stats reveal that there is something very wrong. Let’s add tonight’s numbers into the mix: 0 of 6 from the field, 4 of 4 from the line, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, in 28 minutes. None of this greatly changes the message.

Something is wrong.

It could be health, attitude, role, or luck. I’m ruling out luck for now, despite watching him play. He tries. One of his fouls came at the end of some hard defense where he was eventually called for contact on the wrist. He’s made some decent passes that did not end up in assists because of turnovers or offensive fouls.

It’s easy to explain away certain stats based on schemes or opponent, explain away others as just anomalies, but for a player who has played like Eric has to be so low across so many categories, it likely requires a nudge.

I have absolutely no idea what is wrong with Eric, but something is amiss.

Complicating matters is the issues of minutes. Gordon needs to book decent minutes, likely as a starter and a closer (at least in close games), in order to create and sustain a market for him. So, whatever the fix . . . be it time and health or be it giving him a different role in Monty’s scheme . . . it needs to show up as an improvement in per game stats. Him getting better is the only way, period, for this team to say goodbye to him sooner than 2 seasons from now, if that is even possible.


  1. mateor

    November 5, 2014 at 12:50 am

    Lots of postives with Tyreke and Davis. There is no solution for Eric Gordon. I could see the Pels eventually taking him off the floor entirely.
    But yeah, Tyreke Evans is great to watch, we’re lucky to have him.

  2. sweetjazz3

    November 5, 2014 at 1:43 am

    I’d like to see Gordon get more time with second units, like Rivers – Gordon – Miller/Babbitt – Anderson – Ajinca, where he will have more opportunities to touch the ball and get his usage up.  Finding a way that he can contribute without coming at the expense of other contributions is the most realistic path for the Pelicans to up their win total this season from what they are currently projecting to (looks like a 40-45 win team based on how they have played so far, assuming average to good health).

    I thought Fredette was atrocious on the defensive end.  I don’t think he really understands how to play NBA defense, and when he was matched up on someone with the ball, he tried the approach of overly aggressively hounding the ball handler.  This resulted in one turnover and four or five instances where he was easily beaten off the dribble, forcing our defense to rotate and inevitably give up a high percentage shot.  The sad thing is that I think he is trying to learn our defensive scheme to win minutes, but his fundamentals are just so poor.

  3. 504ever

    November 5, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Gordon has to have set the record for a starter playing the most minutes, 160, to start the season and still having a negative # PER.  That’s right, his PER has a negative sign (-) in front of it! He is supposed to be an offensive player and PER best reflects offense. 
    It’s hard to see him continuing to start much longer.

  4. pels4life

    November 5, 2014 at 7:24 am

    there is no way monty can justify starting eric any more rivers has clearly outplayed him so far give him a chance and play eric with the second unit it cannot be any worse

  5. 6thMan

    November 5, 2014 at 7:26 am

    One possibility is  that the team will soon announce an “injury” to help explain away his recent performance, and then place him on DL to create some space, and then have more of a reason to work him with the second unit when he returns. For me, it’s the only way forward — with 2 big road games coming up, he’s way too much of a distraction suited up on the bench.

  6. malcolmltron

    November 5, 2014 at 9:05 am

    It’s to bad Monty is so stubborn, because everyone else can see Eric is a problem. He won’t change his old school mentality. EG will continue to start I’m pretty sure

  7. DavidLeBoeuf

    November 5, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Move Gordon to the 2nd unit.  Put Rivers in with the starters.  He’s longer, rebounds better, defends better, and is a better fit with that group.  Let him come off the bench w/ Anderson and try to offensively blitz the opposing 2nd unit.  Only solution in my mind.

  8. Come On Pelican

    November 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    This Pelicans team has two key players who are just returning from serious injuries that prematurely ended their seasons last year.  And we’re already questioning the head coach’s starting lineup (one that includes 1 new player — Tyreke — who has never started with the other 4 and 1 new player who is in his 1st year with the team)?  Seriously?

  9. DavidLeBoeuf

    November 5, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Come On Pelican everyone is carrying their weight except for Gordon.  With him in the lineup, he’s taking shots away from Holiday, Evans, and Davis.  In the 2nd unit, he’s taking shots from Jimmer and Ajinca.  Look at the silver lining:   Even though he’s  playing crappy defense, shooting 20%, averaging 4 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist per game:  at least he’s turning the ball over every other time he gets the ball too.

  10. PelaSaintiac

    November 5, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    You nailed it with that picture. that’s hilarious

  11. Jason Calmes

    November 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    PelaSaintiac AnJrue snagged it. I thought it priceless. Of course, we pay him nothing, so it fits.

  12. Pingback: Eric Gordon's Max Deal Has Turned into the NBA's Worst Contract - Distinct Athlete

  13. 504ever

    November 5, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    I don’t think that is fair.  As Head Coach, everything you say to and do with a player is magnified by that player.  So you have to be very careful how you do things as set them up a long way out.  That way the player understands the move and “buys in” to the change.

  14. Pelican Poster

    November 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    The air ball from 10ft was sort of the icing on the cake.  Gordon is playing with zero confidence.  This is borne out of a situation which is rooted in the fact that he knows he pissed off the fans with his mouth, then he pissed them off by getting a check without minutes via injury or performance coming off injury to support it, and now has hit a slump without support of the fans he pissed off. Add to the mix that AD shows up, then this former rookie of the year, and a former all star…now he’s not the top dog, and that is a role he has not grown up in.
    When he first got here, I used to see him sulk when the offense did not go thru him enough…I think he has matured some from that and is actually trying to fill the role of a good teammate…I see him hustling and I see him trying to play defense…and I see him trying to score, so I do see effort, but no positive results. I think he is now lost and agree with most that his route back to confidence building is in the second unit.
    We need him to do well so I am not going to boo the guy, though I know many did last night on the icing shot I mentioned. Never thought I’d feel sorry for the guy but I kinda do regardless of monetary factors…I’m sure the coaches are trying to encourage him and keep his head up, but I truly believe that is window dressing, like when your mother tells you how handsome you are growing up; you need that chick you are hot after to be the one after you.  We are that chick, yet he needs to make a few shots for us to get behind him.  If he does not clear this hurdle you can forget about our chances of having a great season…good yes, but great no.  All that money tied up and no production does not equal success.

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