Wherefore art thou, Eric Gordon?

USA TODAY Sports

Recently, I had a twitter exchange with Bradley Handwerger of WWL-TV regarding Eric Gordon's season performance. Primarily, it revolved around his article, pointing out Gordon's general ineptitude in living up to his lucrative contract:

But if a franchise is going to unload $58 million into your bank account, you can’t just be a first 24 minutes kind of a guy.

You can’t go long stretches of games without contributing.

You’ve got to play through pain when maybe it doesn’t behoove you.

And you’ve got to be able to make a difference in the clutch when your team is counting on you most.

At the time, it felt rather harsh and, in turn, I came to Gordon's defense that it needed to be quantified differently due to his injury-maligned history as a Hornet. He has played in less than 25% of available games the last several seasons, the majority of them likely at less than 100% health. In addition, one should consider how little time he has probably devoted on conditioning and refining his skills. Lastly, the desire to play more, including in back to back games, has not been an option due to team restrictions, so the likelihood of pressing to make an impact is very real.

However, nearly two weeks later, I'm strongly considering changing my stance and holding Eric Gordon much more accountable. Reason being, his in-game contributions continue to vary too greatly through all the stages:

Split


Value


FG


FGA


FG%


3P


3PA


3P%


eFG%


Ast'd


%Ast'd


Quarter

1st

58

116

.500

13

31

.419

.556

30

.517

2nd

30

77

.390

11

30

.367

.461

13

.433

3rd

24

82

.293

5

22

.227

.323

12

.500

4th

19

55

.345

4

15

.267

.382

9

.474

Simply put, according to Basketball Reference, Gordon gets worse as the game progresses. Why is that? If a player shows he is capable of playing at a high caliber for one facet, why can't it continue through all the phases of the game? After 24 games the last several months, shouldn't the comfort level start to return, thus lending to better execution? These startling numbers are even more eye-popping when one examines his shooting statistics during his final season in the Clipper uniform:

Split


Value


FG


FGA


FG%


3P


3PA


3P%


eFG%


Ast'd


%Ast'd


Quarter

1st

113

264

.428

28

80

.350

.481

71

.628

2nd

77

185

.416

16

53

.302

.459

42

.545

3rd

124

278

.446

36

94

.383

.511

77

.621

4th

110

211

.521

25

60

.417

.581

46

.418

Hmm, so Gordon has shown the ability in the past to play his best basketball when the game matters most. Consequently, this season's 2nd half swoons have to be considered of the psychological variety.

Welp, the good news is that this part of the game can be overcome. Whether Gordon needs to improve his ability to visualize success better, block out obstacles or continue to practice pressure situations, fans are right to demand he take a step forward.

For instance, one way to improve this is to stick to one's strengths. For Gordon, that means attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. According to 82Games, here is Gordon's 2012-13 shot selection:

Shot

Att.

eFG%

Ast'd

Blk'd

Pts

Jump

74%

.433

48%

4%

8.8

Close

26%

.521

49%

17%

3.7

Now compare it to clutch situations:

Shot

Att.

eFG%

Ast'd

Blk'd

Pts

Jump

83%

.600

50%

0%

1.5

Close

17%

.333

0%

33%

0.2

Although settling for jumpers in late game situations haven't bitten him in the ass yet, has it been the wisest decision? Gordon is currently the 16th best NBA player in getting to the charity stripe, He shouldn't shy away from driving into the lane merely because he's been less successful to date. It's much more important he regain his form for the future.

After our last loss to Orlando, Gordon admitted:

Eric Gordon blunt in assessing his play in return to court: "This is definitely not one of the better years of my career, for sure."

Moreover, he is fully cognizant of his lackluster play down the stretches of games:

Gordon on producing in clutch (as he did in '11-12): "I have got to accept that role and do things that I’m capable of and have shown."

Eric Gordon still has 21 games to attempt to recapture some of his past glory. This will be important to bear watching for several reasons. One, Gordon needs to prove to himself, his teammates and the fans, he is an integral member of the organization going forward. Two, if the club does decide to go in another direction, Gordon is able to rebuild some of his perceived market value since donning a Hornet uniform.

At the very least, Monty Williams will continue to put him in these situations:

Gordon on 2nd halves: "Coach and I talked about it today and he said he’s going to put the ball in my hands in late-game situations more."

Eric Gordon's disappearances now sit squarely on his shoulders. Fingers crossed!


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