Three years ago, Eric Gordon said, “Phoenix is just where my heart is right now,” after signing a four-year $58-million offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns. Was it a scare tactic? He wanted to play in Phoenix and his public comments might have been a way to deter New Orleans from matching Phoenix’s offer.
They didn’t bite.
Calling New Orleans’ bluff did not work out in Gordon’s favor, although it’s kind of hard to say that considering the enormous payday he received. His time in New Orleans hasn’t been anything that fans had hoped to see.
Gordon hasn’t been bad by any stretch, but his scoring averages have dropped every year in New Orleans.
Season PPG FG% Games Missed
2011-12 20.6 45.0% 57
2012-13 17.0 40.2% 40
2013-14 15.4 43.6% 18
2014-15 13.2 40.9% 21
Gordon is set to make $15-million next year if he accepts his player option. Whether he does that remains to be seen, but his numbers certainly don’t reflect a player that should be making $15 million.
He’s also missed a significant amount of time due to injuries. Although he has remained relatively healthy over the past few seasons, to his standards anyway, he hasn’t been the same consistent scoring threat he was in Los Angeles.
When Gordon’s offer sheet was matched, the roster additions of Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers were supposed to be the core that New Orleans would go with moving forward. Obviously, it hasn’t manifested into the turnaround that the team had hoped for as Gordon has struggled and Rivers is now playing for Gordon’s former team.
With such a big contract, New Orleans might be forced to keep hoping that either one of two things happen: 1) Eric Gordon returns to form, where he averaged 20+ points, playing nearly an entire season 2) Hope some sucker of a team takes on that contract in a trade.
With option number two pretty much out of the discussion for now, the only thing left to do is hope Gordon can provide some support.
With New Orleans in the playoff hunt, Gordon’s play will be a significant factor. Since the start of March, Gordon has scored double-digit points in 13 of 17 games, eclipsing the 20-point mark three times.
It’s a good sign that Gordon does have remnants of his scoring touch, but can he sustain it? The biggest knock on Gordon is that he simply hasn’t been able to stay on the floor long enough to be able string together 20-point games on a night-to-night basis.
One thing that Gordon has been able to do well in is his three-point shooting. Gordon is 2nd in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage, shooting 44.6% from deep.
Offensively, there is a better hope but on the defensive side is what’s causing nightmares. Gordon gives up 111 points per 100 possessions and his Value Above Replacement numbers are affected significantly as well, posting a 0.6. His deficiencies on the defensive side would make him easily expendable… if it weren’t for that contract.
If Gordon opts in (which I think is most likely), his final year in the New Orleans can make or break the next contract. Once heralded as the next up-and-coming superstar, Gordon has fallen off significantly, with just one more year to make his case.