Silver Linings: Can Eric Gordon Actually Breakout This Season?

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Published: November 24, 2015

Last season Eric Gordon was a monster 3pt shooter, making 44.8% of his 3-pt attempts, just better than MVP Stephen Curry’s 44.3%. In terms of Catch and Shoot 3’s, Gordon was 2nd best in the league to Kyle Korver among players who took over 100. “Elite” is a word that is tossed around a lot these days, but it is the first that comes to mind to describe Gordon’s shooting from 3-pt land in the 14-15 season. While he was prolific from beyond the arc, he was anything but from everywhere else, making just 38% of his 2-pt shots. He was particularly bad at the rim, making just 46.4% of his shots within 3 feet.

This season Gordon has made strides to righten the ship. His pull-up game has improved: he is making 38.2% of his pull-up shots this season compared to 32.6% last, just behind players like Carmelo Anthony (38.3%) and Damian Lillard (38.3%). His drive game is also much improved: In addition to finishing much better around the rim (54.7% on his shots within 3 feet), he is getting there more often. 74.6% of all his shots are either around the rim or from beyond the arc. The Pels are actually scoring points 86.3% of the time when he drives, compare that to 60.9% last season. But you don’t need numbers to see that he just looks better driving this year. All this has resulted in a big uptick in production: he is averaging 18.5ppg, the highest it has been in years.

But he hasn’t been that 3pt monster he was last year. Through 14 games Gordon is making just 35.1% of his 3’s, despite having taken the 4th most attempts in the league. Over 50% of all his shots are 3’s. If he was making them at the same rate he was last season, he would be averaging over 20ppg with a career high TS% of 59.9%, which would again be “elite”. Instead he currently has the second worst TS% of his career.

The only thing that is holding him back is that 3-pt marksmanship he showed last year, and I have no doubt he will get it back. He is getting good looks, and it is only a matter of time before his shots start falling. Shooters gotta shoot and so far Gordon has not been gun-shy.

November 18th, 2015. Pelicans lose to the Thunder, Gordon goes 1-9 from beyond the arc.

Gordon 1st 3 v OKCGordon 3rd 3 v OKCGordon 4th 3 v OKCGordon's 7th 3 v OKC

These are some of the looks he missed that night. If he continues to get looks like these consistently, we should see his %’s go up. Even on nights where he shot well from beyond the arc he missed multiple wide open looks:

November 22, 2015. Pelicans beat the Suns, Gordon goes 5 of 12 from beyond the arc.

Gordon 2nd miss v PHXGordon 11th 3 v PHX (5:11)

In fact, 21.1% of all his 3’s are open and 25% are wide open (according to nba.com/stats), that is a lot of good looks. Yet he is hitting only 39.1% of his wide open looks, and 32.6% of his open ones. I would expect both those numbers to be 5-10% higher.

I did not expect Gordon to ever get close to the form he was in as a Clipper, but I’ll be the first to say it: he looks good, he looks healthier, and once his 3-pt shot starts falling a little more often we could see a Gordon we haven’t seen in New Orleans yet….at least on the offensive side of the ball.

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