Houston Rockets: The Resurgence Of Eric Gordon

Once an afterthought free agency signing, Eric Gordon has revitalized his career with the Houston Rockets.

Coming in to the 2016-17 NBA season, few fans paid attention to the Houston Rockets‘ signing of Eric Gordon to a four-year, $53 million contract.

After all, Gordon was coming off of yet another injury riddled, disappointing season with the New Orleans Pelicans and had fallen from grace as one of the NBA’s premier shooting guards.

However, it was clear early in the season that Gordon was determined to rejuvenate his career in Houston.

It is important to note that Eric Gordon is finally happy playing basketball. During the several previous years in New Orleans, Gordon was not comfortable in his role on the team and with the organization surrounding him.

He was finally able to become an unrestricted free agent and choose the destination he wanted to go to. It looks like that comfort and happiness is on clear display so far for the Rockets.

Transitioning to a bench role

Coming into the season, Gordon was used to being in the starting lineup when he was healthy enough to play. It was very rare for Gordon to come off the bench and usually occurred when he was recovering from injuries.

However, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and head coach Mike D’Antoni made it clear that Gordon would be the team’s sixth man this season, a drastic change for Gordon.

Making the transition even harder was the preseason injury to Patrick Beverley, forcing Gordon in and out of the starting lineup for the remaining weeks of preseason and initial weeks of the regular season.

Gordon started off the season cold, shooting 39.6 percent from the field and 36.1 percent on three-pointers. Since Beverley has returned, Gordon has moved back to his role off the bench and has taken off.

Gordon’s hot shooting

In case you weren’t aware, Eric Gordon leads the league in three-pointers made. Yes, you read that right. Eric Gordon, not Steph Curry, leads the NBA in three pointers made with 141. Let that sink in for a moment. Actually, don’t let that sink in just yet.

Let me throw out some other numbers at you. Gordon is currently shooting 43 percent on three pointers and has already tied his previous career high for a season (141 in 2014-15). Now let that sink in.

Eric Gordon is doing this off the bench, where he looks increasingly comfortable with each passing game. Since moving back to his sixth man role, Gordon is shooting 44.6 percent on three-pointers, making 4.1 of them per game.

Gordon is scoring 18.4 points per game in 30 minutes per game off the bench, becoming the go-to guy leading the second unit for the Rockets.

Digging in to the advanced numbers, Gordon posted a net rating of -0.3 as a starter, which has gone all the way up to 8.7 coming off the bench. In December, Gordon boasted a net rating of 12.1 (highlighted by a 113.8 offensive rating) and was a key player in the Rockets’ 15-2 month.

Improving as a playmaker

Another important component of Gordon’s resurgence has been his improved playmaking over the course of the season. In December, Gordon increased his assist rate to 3.4 per game, an improvement over the 2.3 and 2.4 assist per game averages he put up in October and November.

This increase in assists has coincided with an increase in usage for Gordon, as he went up to a 24.1 usage percentage in December, up from 22.7 and 22.6 in October and November.

Gordon has previously shown flashes of being a competent secondary playmaker in his career. He averages 3.3 assists per game for his career, which is better than some might expect for a shooting guard of his playing style.

Gordon’s ability to set up teammates on a semi-consistent basis as the focal point of the Rockets’ bench unit makes him even more difficult to guard.

Eric Gordon: NBA All-Star?

This improved play from Gordon has led many (albeit mostly Rockets fans) to believe Gordon should be in the conversation for a Western Conference All-Star spot.

Yes, Gordon’s averages of 17.8 points per game, 2.9 assists per game, and 2.7 rebounds per game are nothing to write home about in comparison to the other premier guards in the Western Conference.

However, Gordon’s increasingly important role on a top-three team in the conference and increased contributions (18.8 ppg, 3.4 apg, 45.7 percent shooting on three-pointers in December) should at the very least put Gordon in the conversation for a spot among the Western Conference All-Star guards.

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