As the 2013-14 NBA season began, New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon got off to a rough start. While the Pelicans and their fans hoped to see Gordon break out and put numbers up close to what he did in his best seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, he struggled shooting the ball and was startlingly inefficient from the field. It was the type of performance that made us wonder if Gordon as we knew him was gone for good, if his injuries over the previous two seasons had left him a shell of his former self. In the past few weeks, however, Gordon’s play has been on the rise and one can’t help but wondering if he’s on the way to becoming the player he was with the Clippers again.
November was a rough month for Gordon in terms of shooting, as he shot just .427 from the field. in December, however, he’s taken that up to .462, while his offensive rating has gone from 105 to 109. To put it in the simplest terms, Gordon has been a lot more efficient this month. Part of the reason for this might be a slight decrease in his usage rate — this refers to the percentage of possessions in which player shoot (i.e., “uses” the ball) while he is on the court. For Gordon, it decreased from 23.4 percent in November to 21.3 percent in December. Admittedly, this is not an especially large decrease, but maybe a slight dropoff in his workload was all he needed to shoot the ball more efficiently.
While Gordon is a great scorer, this team hardly needs to run him ragged with over-usage. They have plenty of talented scorers, as Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson are all capable of lighting up the stat sheet. When Anthony Davis returns, that will add more quality scorer in the mix, allowing Gordon’s load to become even lighter. Gordon is a good scorer, but he’s likely more useful when he isn’t forced to shoot the ball on every other possession.
The uptick in Gordon’s shooting is good news for the Pelicans, because how well he performs from the field seems to have a profound effect on the ultimate outcome of the game. Gordon has shot .476 from the field in the Pelicans 11 wins, compared to a paltry .402 in their losses. Admittedly, it’s difficult to determine the cause-and-effect of this. We could interpret this to mean that when Gordon’s jumper goes cold, he shoots his team out of the game, but we could also take it to mean that when the Pelicans don’t get solid production from their other players, Gordon is forced to jack up ill-advised shots, often sacrificing his efficiency in the process. It’s likely a little from column A and a little from column B. What we know for sure is that when Gordon’s shots are falling, the Pelicans have a much better chance of winning the game.
So far, Gordon has been disappointing in his tenure with the Pelicans, but his strong hooting in December gives the indication that he might be able to turn things around. there’s a reason why he was considered the “jewel” of the Chris Paul trade (other than CP3 himself), he’s a great scorer, and one of the more talented offensive 2-guards in the league. He’s regressed in recent years, but his recet performance suggests he could be getting his groove back. For Pelicans fans, it’s a welcome sight.