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Projecting Eric Gordon's 2015-16 season based on Gentry's previous shooting guards

Eric Gordon may only have one season under Alvin Gentry, seeing as this is a contract year for him, but let's hope not.

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Alvin Gentry is known around the NBA for being an offensive mastermind and the hope is this proves to be true for the Pelicans as well. New Orleans will not be his first head coaching job; Gentry was the head coach of the Miami Heat from 1994-1995, the Detroit Pistons from 1997-2000, the Los Angeles Clippers from 2000-2003, and most notably, the Phoenix Suns from 2007-2013. This should prove beneficial for the fledgling Pelicans as they still have much to learn and require a strong, experienced coaching staff.

Eric Gordon is entering his 8th season in the NBA, his 5th with the New Orleans Pelicans. So far, he has not exactly proven to be worth the max contract he signed back in 2012. Gordon's numbers have been disappointing as evidenced by the 15.4 PPG on 42.0 FG% while in a New Orleans jersey. His athleticism has visibly waned, and he has failed to play in more than 64 games in a season.

Can Gentry help get Gordon back on track?

To answer this question, let’s take a look at the starting shooting guards on Gentry’s former teams who were both roughly Gordon’s age (26) and started more than one season under Gentry. This leaves two candidates: Jerry Stackhouse (Detroit 1998-2000) and Jason Richardson (Phoenix 2008-2010).

Stackhouse was already on the Pistons before Gentry took over as head coach, but he was not the starting shooting guard until the 1998-1999 NBA season. (All statistics via: basketball-reference.com)


Jerry Stackhouse

Season

GP

MPG

PPG

APG

RPG

SPG

BPG

FG%

3PT%

1998-99

42

28.3

14.5

2.8

2.5

.8

.5

37.1

27.8

1999-2000

82

38.4

23.6

4.5

3.8

1.3

.4

42.8

28.8

Some people may say that his inflation was a result of him playing more minutes, which is somewhat true, but his Per 36 minute averages still recorded healthy increases. However, I think it's more important to recognize the gains in efficiency evidenced by his Player Efficiency Rating (PER) jumping from 15.2 to 18.9.

Jason Richardson:

Season

GP

MPG

PPG

APG

RPG

SPG

BPG

FG%

3PT%

2008-09

58

33.1

16.4

1.9

4.5

1.1

.4

48.8

38.3

2009-10

79

31.5

15.7

1.8

5.1

.8

.4

47.4

39.3

Richardson's numbers remained eerily identical when factoring in minutes, PER and win shares per 48 minutes. Before we make any comparisons let’s look at Eric Gordon's stat line from last season: 33.1 MPG, 13.4 PPG, 3.8 APG, 2.6 RPG, .9 SPG, .2 BPG on 41.1 FG% and 44.8 3pt% in 61 games.

Now some of you may be asking "Why does this matter?" The data above displays the effectiveness of a shooting guard within Gentry’s offense. Further, I believe Gordon is more relatable to Richardson than Stackhouse seeing as they are both 3-point shooters who played alongside elite power forwards and within a more balanced offense. Both comparisons put up stronger numbers than Gordon did last season. So with Gentry at the helm, the Pels can expect numerical improvement from Gordon; hence, Richardson’s production will be my floor for Gordon this upcoming season.

Gentry’s system should resemble what he had in Phoenix with Anthony Davis being an even better pick and roll and pop player than Stoudemire. As a result, Gordon will be camping on the wings waiting for the kick out much like last year, but with a focus on improving the team's ball movement, he'll be able to take the next step.

Imagine if you will, the offensive prowess a lineup of Holiday-Gordon-Pondexter-Anderson-Davis can have! It may rival or even become the best offensive group in the NBA. The Pelicans can set up the offense with three outside shooters (Gordon, Pondexter, and Anderson) and have Holiday and Davis running the pick and roll. Defenses have to respect Davis wherever he is, so defenses are going to try and collapse in on Davis. He'll have a multitude of options such as finding the open shooter for a great look. Opponents will have to respect the three point shooting ability of the trio, unless they'd rather give up 3 points instead of 2 every other time down the floor.

To clarify, there are several legitimate, consistent scoring options in the half court: 1) Davis rolls and scores, 2) Davis pops and scores, 3) Jrue shoots off of the screen and scores, 4) a kick out pass to any of the other three players. Let's have a look at this group's individual shot charts.

(All charts via vorped.com)

These players can get into their best percentage zones, and as a result, spread the defenses thin causing them to either leave Davis with someone one on one (a bad idea) or collapse and leave a wide open shooter which the Pelicans will eventually find through an extra pass or two.

Gordon had the second highest 3PT% last season, trailing only Kyle Korver. Alvin Gentry is going to take full advantage of his shooting guard's incredible prowess. Imagine the higher amount of wide open shots Gordon will have as a result of the transition game. The increased opportunities he'll have with the improvement in defensive schemes thanks to the arrival of Darren Erman.

With Gentry kicking up the pace, the Pelicans will have more, better offensive possessions. Combining that with a money-motivated Gordon, playing on a now playoff team, with a better defense, at a faster game pace, and a more spread out half court offense… The end result will be significant improvement. Honestly guys, I have Gordon as the number two scoring option behind Anthony Davis with 17-19 PPG and an even higher 3PT%.