Eric Gordon is finally staying healthy and has become a play maker off the bench. The case for Most Improved is strong and Sixth Man of the Year even stronger.
If you would have told me at the midway point that Houston was a top three team in the West, I might have chuckled. If you added that Eric Gordon would be a key piece to their success, I would be left confused.
But where credit is due, you have to give it to Eric Gordon.
Before making his way to Houston, Gordon was a key starter during his time in New Orleans and Los Angeles. Now, Gordon has resurged in Mike D’Antoni’s revamped offense and is putting up starter numbers…as the sixth man off the bench.
Normally, sixth man and most improved player don’t go hand-in-hand. This case is different.
Gordon ended his days in New Orleans with a broken hand, twice. He missed the second half of the season and this left teams skeptical on how Gordon would return to the court.
D’Antoni saw this as an opportunity to get a play maker and help off the bench. The return has been prodigious.
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Gordon is averaging 30.5 minutes this season, his lowest of his career besides the 2012-13 season where he missed the first half of the season.
In his 30.5 minutes on the court, Gordon is second behind James Harden averaging 17.4 points per game. When we turn that into 36 minutes, Gordon is averaging 20.5 points per game. Based on the 36 minutes, the 2010-11 season is the only relevant season that mirrors these numbers.
In 56 games played that season, as a starter, Gordon was averaging 21.3 points per 36 minutes. He actually was playing 37-plus minutes that season but missed out on 26 games.
This season he has already played 46 total games and should he stay healthy, he can play more than 80 games with the playoffs included and match his career best.
A reason Gordon is having career best numbers is the high volume of shots that the Rockets are putting up. D’Antoni offenses thrive on the three point line and moving the ball, which has been a key asset to the team’s success.
Gordon is shooting the ball more than ever beyond the arc. Of his field goals attempted, 64.8 percent of them are from three-point range. He’s averaging nine threes a game while making more than a third of those.
In fact, Gordon has already hit a career-high 166 threes this season, exceeding his previous high of 141 when he played 61 games in 2014-15. Should the shots keep coming, he could potentially double that number and make nearly 300 threes this season.
Besides being a valuable piece of the team’s three-point success, Gordon is finding success when the team wins.
In the team’s 34 wins this season, Gordon is averaging 45.4 percent from the field, nearly matching the team’s percentage of 48.1. Along with that, he’s surpassed the team’s three-point percentage of 39.1 and is hitting 43.9 percent of his three-point shots in those wins.
To have these numbers, it’s not just luck. Yes, he got hit with the injury bug hard and soon in his career but Gordon has definitely put that behind him.
In a game where numbers don’t lie, none of Gordon’s are misleading. The true skills of a once NBA All-Rookie are being brought forth once again. Gordon adapted to his starting role in Los Angeles and it’s obvious he’s adapted to his role as sixth man.
Personally, you may have opinions on who should be sixth man of the year. But, statistically, Gordon is earning his right at that honor and we can’t ignore it. As far as Most Improved Player goes, the race is much tighter and honestly, most have the Greek Freak of Milwaukee winning that award.
I think different.
It’s not that Gordon’s numbers off the bench are only impressive, it’s the fact that he’s coming back from breaking his hand twice. It’s the fact that he is in a new environment and thriving. It’s the fact that were finally seeing the healthy Eric Gordon that we’ve wanted.