3 Ripple effects Eric Gordon’s injury will have on the Houston Rockets

Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets shared some bad news Tuesday as it was announced Eric Gordon may miss up to six weeks. Here’s what this means for the team.

The Houston Rockets released news today that will leave the team even more shorthanded for the foreseeable future. As Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports, Eric Gordon could miss up to six weeks after undergoing knee surgery that will remove debris.

Gordon was playing starters’ minutes even though he was mostly coming off the bench. His 29.4 minutes a game will have to be filled by other bench players for the time being. With Danuel House possibly missing time as well, there will be ripple effects felt throughout the roster going forward until Gordon is back from injury.

More playing time for Clemons and Rivers

Even though the Rockets are losing one of their top scorers for up to six weeks, the injury will give other players more playing time that could show more of what they have to offer. Two of those players are Chris Clemons and Austin Rivers. Clemons’ break into the rotation has been slow so far, but now minutes may be coming his way sooner rather than later.

With Eric Gordon surgery and Danuel House Jr. likely out tomorrow against the Clippers, Rockets likely to start Ben McLemore. That means Austin Rivers and Chris Clemons to get the time off the bench in the backcourt.

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) November 12, 2019

Clemons has played close to eight minutes a game but has had a handful of DNP’s so far. The 5-9 guard showed in the blowout loss to the Heat what he could do given the time. In his best game of the year so far, Clemons played 22 minutes and had 16 points, going 4-of-9 from deep.

Clemons usually is instant offense off the bench, since he’s not afraid to let it fly. The biggest growing pain for Clemons is on the defensive end, though, where he will have to learn how to stay out of foul trouble since most teams will go right at him when he enters the game.

Austin Rivers is another candidate for more minutes with the news of Gordon’s injury. Rivers is usually the second guard off the bench, playing over 20 minutes a game. With Gordon out, he will be the first option off the bench. Rivers, like most bench players for the Rockets, had a slow start to the season but has begun to find his stroke from deep.

In the last three games, Rivers is 7-of-10 from downtown. He has been consistent for the Houston Rockets since his signing last year and has proven to be one of the best perimeter defenders on the roster.

Better lineups on the court for the Houston Rockets

The Rockets have had an up and down season so far to say the least. If you look at the overall numbers, they are one of the worst teams in the league on the defensive end so far. Also, their overall 3-point percentage has been abysmal. But if you look deeper into the numbers, you see that Gordon’s slow start brought down most of those numbers this season.

The Rockets’ original starting five (with House instead of Gordon) actually has the best defensive rating and the second-best overall net rating of any lineup in the league. With this lineup for the Rockets, they have an 88.3 defensive rating that is almost a full point better than the second-place lineup. For all the criticism (some warranted) of the Rockets to start the season, their main lineup is the best in the league by far. With Gordon out several weeks, it will mean more time for this group to play together.

It will help Eric Gordon in the long run

As mentioned earlier, Gordon has had a rough start to the season. His value-added rating at -27.8 and estimated wins added -0.9 are the worst in the league. His percentage from downtown so far is 28.4, which is the worst of his career. Gordon has had bad starts to the year — just last year he struggled from the field early in the year, but even then it wasn’t this bad. With the news of Gordon knee injury, it may explain why he has played so poorly on both ends of the court.

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Any injury, especially a knee injury, can affect your shot, your ability to work out in the offseason and your overall conditioning. Now that he will be out for six weeks, it will give him time to heal and refocus his game. The Rockets don’t necessarily need Gordon in November; they need him ready to go for April through June.

With Gordon and possibly House missing games, there will be more opportunities for players coming off the bench or even players currently in the G League. Of course, James Harden will sometimes have to revert back to last year’s Harden where he carried the team on his back, especially in back-to-back games that Russell Westbrook will miss.

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The silver lining is that Gordon will be fully rested coming back and will hopefully look more like the former Sixth Man of the Year he’s been and not the struggling player we have seen so far.