Although the Houston Rockets agreed to terms with Eric Gordon on a max deal, would that still have happened based on Gordon’s play this season?
When the Houston Rockets resigned Eric Gordon to a max contract this past offseason, many Rockets’ fans had mixed emotions. Many felt it wasn’t the best move, as Gordon has proven to be far too inconsistent to be relied on as the Rockets’ third option, which has become pivotal in today’s league.
Many thought it was the right move, as Gordon fits the Rockets’ 3-point heavy scheme perfectly, not to mention the fact that Gordon has the ability to set himself up for his own shot. The latter is an important point, as Gordon has the ability to thrive without James Harden or Russell Westbrook on the floor, which can’t be said about many other Rockets’ players.
In fact, Gordon dropped 50 points against the Utah Jazz this season, in a game in which neither Russell Westbrook nor James Harden played, which ultimately carried the Rockets to victory. Gordon was the Rockets’ second-leading scorer during the 2019 postseason, and he made 40 percent of his 3-pointers, which was the third-best clip on the Rockets (among players with at least two attempts).
Gordon was also the Rockets’ second-leading scorer during the Western Conference Semifinals series against the Golden State Warriors, behind only Harden. But this season, the Rockets have gotten a much different Gordon, which is strange timing considering how he just got a new deal before the start of the season.
Gordon has had his worst offensive and defensive ratings of his Rockets’ tenure this season, and his 14.5 points per game has been lower than any other year in which he’s donned a Rockets uniform. Not only that, Gordon has scored his second-fewest points of his career, and the lowest since the 2014-15 season, in which he had 13.4 points per game.
Gordon’s 3-pointers haven’t been falling either, as he’s only made 31.9 percent of his treys, which is also the lowest mark since the 2011-12 season. That’s a major issue because he’s relied on the long-range shot this season more than ever before, as 65.8 percent of his field-goal attempts this season have been 3-pointers, which is a career high.
Gordon is also shooting a horrid 37 percent from the field, which is a career-low, and is partly due to the high number of triples he’s missed, considering how many he attempts per game. This season, Gordon has had his fewest offensive win shares and his lowest offensive box plus minus of his entire career. In fact, Gordon’s offensive box plus minus is actually in the negative.
On top of that, he’s had his worst player efficiency rating of his career (10.5) and his lowest true shooting percentage of his career (51.1 percent). It’s clear Gordon has had a major regression this season, as he’s been below average in 3-point percentage, field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, offensive box plus minus, and player efficiency rating.
Granted, to Gordon’s credit, he’s battled injuries, but it’s difficult to chalk this season entirely to that, because as mentioned above, he dropped a career-high 50 points earlier this season. But if that is the reason for his regression, the extended break would seem to benefit him, as he’ll obviously have time to heal and recover from whatever has been bothering him.
But it’s fair to ask if the Rockets would re-sign him if they had known they would be getting this version of Gordon, as he’s not been the same player they thought they were getting. This is especially the case considering the state of the Houston Rockets’ finances, as we know they’re strapped for cash, as they’re only $4.5 million below the luxury tax.
Gordon has certainly regressed this season, and the Houston Rockets will need him to get back into normal form, because when healthy, he can give the Rockets 20 points per night. Hopefully that version of Gordon shows up for the postseason, whenever that is.