It's the dawning of a new era in New Orleans basketball, and with so much attention paid to matters off the court this season, I believe it's time to evaluate how our franchise performed during its time on the court. As a result, I want to begin an evaluation of the front office, the roster and the coaching staff and see how they performed, what could happen going forward, and whether or not you approve of their job this season. Without further adieu, the next player we're going to look at is Eric Gordon.
Fourth season in the league (first with the Hornets) out of Indiana University Bloomington (Restricted Free Agent)
9 Games, 9 Starts, 20.6 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 75.4 FT Pctg., 25.0 3PT FG Pctg., 45.0 FG Pctg., 19.2 PER, 105 Offensive Rating, 106 Defensive Rating
April 6th at San Antonio (31 Points, 4 Assists, 3 Steals, 2 Rebounds in 32 Minutes during 128-103 loss)
Eric Gordon has been an enigmatic figure since the day he was acquired by the New Orleans Hornets on that fateful December afternoon. In the wake of the Chris Paul trade being official, there was great speculation as to who or what the Hornets could reasonably command with a franchise player who had already asked to be moved. With that in mind, the idea was that most teams could low ball the Hornets offer. After two failed trades, the Hornets finally were able to move Chris Paul and received Eric Gordon back in the deal. At 23, Gordon represented great talent, great potential and a new face for a team that is looking to remove itself from the Chris Paul era as soon as possible.
There were immediately rumors as to whether or not Gordon wanted to be in New Orleans, especially considering he was going to be a Restricted Free Agent at the end of the season. He looked a little less than ecstatic when he was introduced, and given the way that Hornets fans have been mistreated since the organization debuted, it's reasonable for the most pessimistic of fans to be a little paranoid. However, it looked like an opportunity for Gordon to establish himself as a franchise player both for himself and for the Hornets franchise going into what is going to be a pivotal off season for the team.
Gordon looked great in his first game with New Orleans. Going against the Phoenix Suns, he hit the game winner for the Hornets and breathed life into a franchise in desperate need of it. However, he would bump knees with Grant Hill in that game and would not play again until January 4th. After making his home debut in that loss to the 76ers, Gordon would again go to the injured list and, following surgery on his knee, would not play again until April 4th. After Gordon did come back, however, the team responded well. They went 6-3 in games that he played this season and that includes wins over playoff teams such as the Grizzlies and Jazz (not to mention the damage done with a victory over the playoff hopeful Houston Rockets). Gordon showed an ability to create for himself that, honestly, doesn't exist for anyone outside of Jarrett Jack on this team but showed a unique ability to create for himself at the end of games; a problem that the Hornets had all season long.
There's no doubt that Gordon can play the game of basketball. His main questions will be with his durability. There's always going to be skepticism when you think about what the Hornets should pay him this off season as opposed to what they probably will pay him. He's young, he's talented, he's coachable and he's great on defense. He's the kind of player that the Hornets need. And although his knee injury may scare away some suitors, it won't scare away all and the market will dictate what it is the Hornets need to pay to keep him in New Orleans. It's just the way that it is. When Gordon plays, he's great. But does he play enough to warrant what kind of payday awaits? I imagine so but that is up to each person who wants to discuss the topic.