After playing very well in the 2019 playoffs, Rockets’ guard Eric Gordon will look to carry his success into next year. Here are three goals for Gordon in the 2019-20 season.
Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon is one of the most underrated players in the league. Due to the sheer amount of 3-pointers he attempts, most basketball fans know that he’s an excellent shooter.
However, he’s also a solid ball-handler and has enough burst to blow by defenders on his way to the hoop for an easy layup. He has improved on the defensive end in recent seasons as well, as he often defended the opposing team’s point guard last season when the Rockets elected to give Chris Paul a rest on defense to keep him fresh for the postseason.
Speaking of the playoffs, EG stepped up his game when it really counted. After averaging 16.2 points per game on 36.0 percent shooting from deep in the regular season, Gordon put up 17.8 points per game on 40.0 percent shooting in the postseason. Not to mention his defense, specifically on Donovan Mitchell in the first round, was absolutely spectacular.
In order to compete for a championship next season, Eric Gordon has to play big for the Houston Rockets, especially throughout April, May and hopefully in June. Here are three goals for Houston’s sharpshooting guard in the 2019-20 season.
Next: No. 3
3. Stay Healthy
Injuries played a large role in much of Gordon’s early career. After a healthy rookie season, when he appeared in a career-high 78 games, Gordon started to run into a bit of bad luck. After missing 20 and then 26 games in his second and third season, Gordon suffered a right knee injury that caused him to miss all but nine games in the 2011-12 season.
That summer, Gordon re-injured his knee while trying out for the Olympics, which caused him to miss the first 29 games of the 2012-13 season. In the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, Gordon missed 18 and then 21 games, but that was a massive improvement compared to his court time in previous seasons. Then, in the 2015-16 season, Gordon sat out 37 games with a right ring finger injury.
After joining Houston in the 2016-17 season, Gordon has enjoyed the healthiest stretch of his career, missing just 34 games out of 246 in his three seasons as a Rocket.
However, Gordon is 30 years old and he will turn 31 before the start of 2020. Players’ bodies tend to begin breaking down once they get into their 30’s and with Gordon’s injury history, the Rockets would be wise to manage his workload throughout the season.
Health plays such a big role in winning championships, as we saw back in June when Golden State lost Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to season ending injuries, severely limiting their chances at beating a hungry Raptors team.
For Eric Gordon and for the Houston Rockets in general, just staying healthy will be a big win.
Next: No. 2
2. Shoot at least 38 percent from 3-point range
Eric Gordon is definitely one of the better 3-point shooters in the league, but his long distance shot is a bit streaky.
Gordon’s shot was way off at the start of last season, and Houston’s record largely suffered as a result. Despite averaging 16.7 points per game, Gordon shot just 36.5 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from 3-point range in October and November of 2018. In the 18 games that Gordon appeared in during that timeframe, Houston lost 10 of those matchups.
However, Gordon started to heat up as the year went on. After playing well throughout January and February, Gordon was piping hot throughout March and April as the Rockets prepared for the playoffs. Gordon averaged 16.6 points per game in the last two months of the season, very similar to his scoring averages in the beginning of the season, but he shot 47 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from the 3-point line. In the 19 games that Gordon played in during March and April, the Rockets secured 16 victories.
Overall, Gordon averaged 16.7 points on 43.4 percent shooting from the field and 38.3 percent shooting from 3-point range in Houston’s wins last season. In losses however, he averaged 15.3 points on 36.7 percent shooting from the floor and 31.8 percent shooting from 3-point range.
Lower scoring averages in losses is expected for almost any NBA player. After all, the name of the game is to put the ball in the hoop. However, the discrepancy in Gordon’s shooting percentages between wins and losses is quite large. Neither James Harden or Chris Paul had such a drastic difference in their field goal percentages in wins compared to losses last season.
When Gordon is efficient and he is shooting well, Houston’s offense is nearly impossible to stop. Gordon is a scorer who is explosive enough to win a ball-game by himself when he’s in a rhythm. However, when he is off, it really hurts Houston’s spacing and offensive potency more than most fans probably realize. If Gordon can improve his 3-point shooting to around 38 percent next season, the Rockets will win more games.
Next: No. 1
1. Win Sixth Man of the Year
Eric Gordon took home the Sixth Man of the Year Award in the 2016-17 season after averaging 16.2 points on 37.2 percent shooting from downtown. He finished fourth in the NBA in total 3-pointers made despite coming off the bench and helped James Harden lead Houston to 55 wins.
EG was the runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year in the 2017-18 season, finishing a distant second to Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers. Gordon wasn’t in the running last season because he started in 53 games for Houston as Mike D’Antoni decided to roll out a three-guard lineup.
It isn’t clear how D’Antoni will structure his lineup next season. After the emergence of Danuel House, we could see Gordon return to his role as the team’s sixth man and provide that scoring punch off the bench.
Some people may see Gordon moving back to a bench role as a demotion, but that isn’t really the case. He would still have largely the same role as a third option on offense, would average very similar minutes, and would likely get the nod in crunch time. The only difference is that he’d be playing more minutes against opposing team’s second units and would be very helpful to a Rockets’ bench that ranked dead last in points per game by a wide margin last season.
If Gordon does join the second unit next year, it would be nice to see him beat out Lou Williams, Domantas Sabonis and any other potential competitors and win Sixth Man of the Year next season.