The Houston Rockets have been dialogued as one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season. Although, it hasn’t been because of their imposing 40-18 record — led by head coach Mike D’Antoni, nor has it been their historical season shooting the basketball.
A collective group of individuals have surprised the league from this Rockets team. They’ve fitted in so well, and it’s been adjusted around the MVP-style of play from James Harden. A player in particular, couldn’t have made a better adjustment on a winning team — than shooting guard Eric Gordon, who was just crowned champion of the All-Star Weekend Three-Point Shootout on Saturday.
After facing an endless amount of adversity, Gordon has changed the direction of his nine-year career. However, it was much more difficult than people think it was. This was an individual who was one of the most-elite players in his draft class, which he shared with the likes of Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, and many others.
Before he grazed the courts of the NBA, Gordon averaged 29 points during his senior year with North Central High School. It then carried over to his collegiate days — with 20.9 points in his lone season with the Hoosiers. There was without any doubt that Eric was a top-five recruit in the country, as a 6’4″ athletic guard who was able to create space off the dribble and attack off either side. Gordon was really touted due to his strong finishing abilities at the rim, as well as his extreme quickness on defense.
This was simply excellent young player coming into the league:
Gordon was selected seventh-overall by the Los Angeles Clippers back in 2008, which was a team who was extremely weak in their backcourt rotation. Their only wing-player below the age of thirty was Corey Maggette, who later signed with the Golden State Warriors the following summer. The Clippers finished with a 23-59 record, and obtained the twelfth seed in the West that year.
In Gordon’s rookie season, the Clippers continued to suffer. They did even worse than the season prior — only winning nineteen games in the 2008-09 season. Eric averaged 16.1 points per game, and shot nearly 39% from three. Gordon started in 65 of his 78 games, and was on track to meeting the expectations set for him in.
On a side note: I tweeted earlier that had Maggette not left Los Angeles in the summer of 2008, their chances of winning the lottery thus drafting Blake Griffin, would’ve been impossible.
But after his first season, much changed for Gordon. He drastically lost his explosiveness.
In 2009-10, Gordon played in 62 games after missing 24 games due to an ongoing bone-chip fracture in his wrist. This embarked on a long journey of being unable to stay on the court.
Here’s a list of every injury he’s ever sustained via Reddit.
After his Many forget that Gordon was an important asset of the “Chris Paul Trade” on December 14th, 2011. This sent Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, a 2012 first-round pick (which selected Austin Rivers) to the New Orleans Hornets.
After appearing in just 221 out of a possible 344 games, Gordon wasn’t able to stay healthy in his time with New Orleans. It seemed to be definite that he would never reach that illusive potential he once had. But that theory dispersed as soon as he signed a four-year, $53 million deal to join the Houston Rockets.
As the Rockets have become polarizing in the West, Gordon has regained a reputation as not just one of the league’s best reserves, but as well as placing himself in one of the higher-tiers amongst shooting guards.
In the 2016-17 season, Gordon has been sensational. He has come across averages of 17.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 0.6 steals per-game. Gordon was terrific throughout the first 39 games, shooting 43% from the field, 41% from three, and 84% from the free-throw line.
However those numbers have slipped, as Gordon sustained a back-injury — forcing him to miss six games before the All-Star break. In the 13 he games played before the break, he shot 37% from the floor, and 31% from three.
The Rockets are looking to hold a lock on the third seed, or maybe even creep their way to second. But it cannot be done without Eric Gordon being their second-best player.
Gordon, who ranks fourth in total threes-made with 184, has had 23 games of at least four-or-more three-pointers in the NBA this year. It’s safe to say that his career is back on track, and I’ve enjoyed it.