What the Rockets Need Defensively
Once the Rockets switched to small ball midseason, they knew that Eric Gordon would be a big factor in winning for this team. At peak health, Gordon brought great physicality at the guard position and had the ability to defend well against bigger players in the post.
The Rockets are potentially going to be playing an abundance of skilled bigs in the Western Conference, which includes guys like Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert and Kristaps Porzingis. With the Rockets’ current defensive scheme in which they switch on every pick, they are going to need Gordon to bring that physicality to bother skilled big men.
At his best, Gordon is a jack of all trades when it comes to the defensive end of the court because of how versatile he is. He can defend guards on the perimeter and also hold his own in the post against bigger players due to his strength.
Mike D’Antoni, when asked about how the small-ball lineup was going to work on defense, once said, “It’s tough to post up linebackers.”
Small-ball #Rockets inviting post-up possessions with their group of “linebacker” defenders:
“We don’t have those long, tall guys, but we’re wide. …There will be some guys we have a hard time with, but that’s part of the game.” pic.twitter.com/owu4wzXmpm
— Michael Shapiro (@mshap2) February 12, 2020
Eric Gordon is one of those key linebackers. He brings a tough style of defense onto the court that’s very similar to P.J. Tucker and is a pest in the paint to opposing big men.
What the Rockets Need Offensively
The Rockets are already a scary offense with two of the best scorers in the NBA, however, they could become even more lethal if Eric Gordon is able to play at his full potential.
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Throughout this season, Gordon has not been able to play at peak performance. In fact, he is playing some of the worst basketball in his career in terms of per 100 possessions.
However, even with Gordon struggling, the Rockets have still been able to maintain a top 10 offense, ranking ninth in the league in terms of total offense.
If Gordon is able to increase his efficiency on the floor, the Rockets could skyrocket in total offense. Gordon is currently shooting just 37 percent from the floor this season.
If he could match his shooting efficiency to anywhere near what he had over the last two seasons with Houston, the Rockets’ offense could be unstoppable.
Eric Gordon may not be the first or second option on the team, but his performance is crucial and dictates how far the Rockets are going the get this year in the playoffs. As Gordon starts to get back into shape, teams may need to worry about a third Rocket who can score from anywhere on the floor.