Welcome to “Hoosiers within the NBA,” a player-by-player take a look at how IU basketball alums fared through the 2020-21 NBA common season. In the present day, the collection begins with Eric Gordon.
Gordon (27 video games): 17.8 factors, 2.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds, 43.3% FG, 32.9% 3PFG in 29.2 minutes per recreation
The abbreviated 2020-21 NBA season wasn’t type to former Indiana star Eric Gordon.
Accidents had rather a lot to do with Gordon’s struggles in a season the place the Rockets went from preseason contender to the worst staff within the NBA. The North Central product had quite a lot of accidents in his thirteenth season, together with a groin harm in March that stored him out the ultimate two months of the season.
Statistically talking, Gordon’s manufacturing was on par with what he’s produced over an expert profession through which he’s earned nicely over $100 million. His 17.8 factors per recreation had been above his profession common as was his 43.3 p.c capturing from the sector. With the roster adjustments that Houston went by way of, Gordon was in a position to have the ball in his fingers extra typically this season. He scored 20 or extra factors on 14 events and his season-high was 33 factors in a 133-108 blowout win over Dallas on January 23.
For a lot of his profession with the Rockets, Gordon was a complimentary piece to superstars like James Harden, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook and functioned as a second choice that might shoot it from the perimeter or assault the rim.
When Gordon agreed to a contract extension with the Rockets in September of 2019, he made that dedication with the objective of continuous to compete for championships. Houston made the playoffs in every of Gordon’s first 4 seasons with the franchise, reaching the convention semifinals in 2017, 2019 and 2020. In 2018, the Rockets reached the convention finals.
This season, nevertheless, was a lot totally different.
Previous to the season, Houston traded Westbrook to Washington in alternate for John Wall. And when the season tipped off, it was clear that Harden wished out. He finally compelled his approach out by way of a commerce to Brooklyn, which morphed the Rockets from contender to laughing inventory within the Western Convention.
It was comprehensible that the Rockets can be worse with Westbrook and Harden departing, however slightly than a step again, Houston fell to the very backside of the league. From February 6 by way of March 21, the Rockets misplaced 20 straight video games. That absolutely didn’t sit nicely with Gordon, who’s on the level of his profession the place being part of a rebuild must be of minimal curiosity.
With the franchise clearly in rebuild mode and Gordon nearing the tip of the prime of his profession, it’s truthful to surprise what his long-term match is in Houston. He’ll flip 33 later this yr and has one yr of assured cash on his deal that can pay him $19.5 million subsequent season. The ultimate yr of Gordon’s deal solely turns into assured if he makes the All-Star staff or the franchise wins a championship.
If Houston follows the script that it has with its different notable gamers with main cash left on their offers, Gordon may discover himself in a brand new state of affairs subsequent season. If that occurs, hopefully will probably be a spot the place he can contribute to a contending staff.
Backside Line: Whereas Gordon has by no means hit that celebrity stage that many projected when he arrived as a freshman at Indiana, he’s had a extremely productive and profitable NBA profession. Shooters are of excessive worth within the league and Gordon brings that plus the flexibility to create offense on his personal. He’s additionally a low-maintenance man who’s well liked by his teammates and is a frontrunner within the locker room. It wouldn’t be the worst concept for Houston to maintain Gordon round subsequent season to behave as a mentor to its younger gamers, however for his sake, discovering him a touchdown spot with a contending staff can be a a lot better approach to finish his prime.
Quotable: “Nicely, I imply personally, I caught an harm at a tricky level within the season, however I used to be having a reasonably good environment friendly yr. However I do know as a staff, as an entire, you’ll be able to inform the staff goes younger. That’s simply what it looks as if and what it’s trying like. The staff’s going youthful, new coach. We’re attempting to nonetheless determine methods how guys can get higher as a staff. So it’s nearly like a full, full constructing stage.” – Gordon to The Athletic on how he seen his thirteenth season within the NBA.