When the then New Orleans Hornets traded franchise cornerstone Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers in December of 2012, the main piece that they got back was young shooting guard Eric Gordon. Coming to a team that had no real face after losing Paul, it was expected of Gordon to come in and lead that team.
However, in his first season in NOLA, the former Indiana Hoosier appeared in only nine games after it was determined that he had cartilage damage in his right knee. Gordon did average 20.6 points per game, so the potential for him to be a star was still very much alive.
In the 2012-13 season, the 24-year-old Gordon raised his game totals up from nine to 42, an improvement, but still missed 40 games due to lingering knee problems. Gordon averaged 17.0 points for those 42 games, leading the Hornets and continuing to show his talent.
I don’t think anyone is doubting Gordon’s talent, with his raw athleticism and shooting skills, but his nagging health concerns have held him back from being an elite player. With his knees being the constant issue, you have to wonder if he’s slowly becoming the next Brandon Roy, who at one point was a star in this league before degenerative knees forced him into early retirement. Maybe I’m pushing things too fast here on Gordon, who unlike Roy, is still in the league. But maybe you just have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
The Pelicans are clearly building around Anthony Davis, who is developing into one of the most dominant players in the entire league, but as we’ve learned from watching teams like the Miami Heat make title runs as of late, you need to have more than one star player to win in this league.
So that raises the question; Can Eric Gordon be that second star player down in the Big Easy?
I believe he can as long as he can stay on the court, which is apparently easier said than done for the former seventh overall draft pick. Gordon has averaged over 20 points per game twice in his career, back to back years actually, in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Pairing a dominant scoring guard up with Anthony Davis, who could be an All-NBA All-Defense team member, would create a team that could make some serious noise across the league.
So far in the 2013-14 season, Gordon has appeared in 64 games out of a total 74, and has put up respectable numbers of 15.4 points per game, 2.6 rebounds per game, and 3.3 assists per game. They’re not All-Star numbers, but if he can continue to mesh with Anthony Davis, throw in Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans and things will start to look up for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Shawn McFarland covers the NBA and the NBA Draft for HoopsHabit.com