Eric Gordon’s play in the first 38 games of the NBA season for the Houston Rockets shows he is the perfect complement to James Harden. The Rockets have rocketed into the third seed in the Western Conference behind the amazing play of James Harden, the system of Mike D’Antoni, and Gordon’s play off the bench. Besides heading the second unit, when Gordon is in the game with Harden he can take some of the responsibilities off his shoulders. This has become the launching pad for his sixth man of the year campaign.
Over the course of his career Gordon has struggled with injury after injury never playing more than 64 games in season over the past seven seasons. In addition to his injuries, he’s never been fully comfortable in his stops with the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans. It appears he’s found comfort in the confines of Houston and is flourishing in his role as Harden’s sidekick.
Despite being known as a shooter, Gordon has the ability to create plays on his own which takes some of the pressure off of Harden to always create for his teammates. In the two examples below he came off a double pick-and-roll and found Montrezl Harrell rolling to the rim. Against the Washington Wizards he came off of a double staggered pin down and then found a wide-open Trevor Ariza for three.
Gordon shooting skill set is a perfect fit for D’Antoni’s offense and the primary reason the Rockets signed him to a $34 million, four year contract his past summer. He’s another piece that can spread the floor for Harden. Shooting 41.9% from three off of 8.9 attempts and leads the league with 144 three pointers made. When the Rockets run high pick-and-rolls for Harden, Gordon is often floating around the three-point line. As in the play below when Nene hits him for a three when the defense left Gordon to help on the roll. He’s also a valuable piece at the end of the shot clock because he doesn’t need to depend on Harden to create for him. Against the Oklahoma City Thunder with the shot clock running down, he’s handed the ball by Ryan Anderson and drilled a deep three off the dribble.
Gordon is the perfect sidekick for Harden because he does not need him. He’s capable of getting his own shot off and creating for his teammates as well. This ability is able to buy Harden a few moments of brief rest in games, he doesn’t have to initiate every play, create every shot, he has a willing partner in Gordon to carry the load. Gordon has been great this season, shooting nearly three percentage points better from three while shooting three more attempts and averaging 21 points for the explosive Rockets. His case for sixth man of the year is a strong one and makes him the front-runner for the award.
NBA Notes –
- Golden State Worries – The big story after the Warriors loss to Memphis was the blow up between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant over his shot selection. All of this overshadowed their poor fourth quarter performance. They only had 13 shots, 5 turnovers, and ZERO assists. The Warriors will be fine in the long run but they’ll need to get their fourth quarter offense going again.
- Cavs adding more – The Cavs completed their trade for Kyle Korver on Saturday by sending a future first round pick, Mo Williams, and Mike Dunleavy to Atlanta. This gives the Cavs another shooter to add to their roster and plugs the hole vacated by JR Smith’s thumb injury.
- Millisap moving – With the Hawks sending Korver out for essential a first round pick, everyone is looking for Paul Millisap to be on the move next. Everyone is looking at the Toronto Raptors as a suitor as they are trying to compete with the Cavs in an arms race.
- Important Date – A lot of contracts become guaranteed on January 10th but the real cut day is the 7th as players have to clear waivers so teams can avoid the contract becoming guaranteed.
- Photo Credit – Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports