1. Eric Gordon
Although the Rockets’ acquisition of Eric Gordon was a bit of a question mark, he arrived at the perfect time. The Rockets had a bit of a regression period in 2015-16, as they barely made the playoffs and were an easy first-round matchup for the Golden State Warriors.
Gordon won Sixth Man of the Year, 3-Point Contest, and helped the Rockets reach the second-round of the playoffs, all in his first season. Gordon become one of the team’s most reliable postseason performers in the years that followed, while also being capable of taking away opposing teams’ best scoring threat in the backcourt.
Gordon proved pivotal during the Rockets’ postseason duels with the Utah Jazz, as he made life difficult for former Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell continuously. Gordon also became one of the Rockets’ best players during their postseason battles against the Golden State Warriors, as he averaged 19 points on 42.3 percent from the field and 35 percent from deep in the 2018 Western Conference Finals, followed by a nearly identical statline of 20 points, 45.2 percent from the field, and 34.5 percent from three in the 2019 Western Conference Semifinals against the Dubs.
Gordon’s value was proven time and time again in Houston during the Rockets’ contending years. However, he became overvalued by the organization during the rebuilding years, as the Rockets continued to rebuff trade offers from teams that were interested in Gordon across the league.
The Rockets continued to talk up Gordon’s impact in the locker room, although we continued to see signs of immaturity from the young Rockets on the floor. The Rockets entered the third year of their teardown with him still in the roster, and even had talks with him regarding a contract extension (imagine that).
Gordon was initially dealt to the LA Clippers at the trade deadline for a first-round pick, which turned out to be the pick that got Cam Whitmore. So everything worked out from that standpoint, but it doesn’t change the fact that Rockets GM Rafael Stone held onto EG for entirely too long.