What happens in preseason, usually should stay in preseason. Many rightfully ignore statistics or trends during a meaningless small sample size period such as the NBA exhibition window. However, this is not to say that everything should be glossed over.
According to Basketball Reference, Eric Gordon had zero dunks in 2018 minutes last season. The year before, he had five, and in 2012-13, six. In his first season with New Orleans, he threw it down four times in nine games. This ratio was much more akin to his days as a Los Angeles Clipper. Remember those?
Well, in 122 minutes of action during the preseason, Gordon has recorded three jams. More impressively, two of them were of the two-handed variety: against the Houston Rockets in the first quarter and this gem last night against the Miami Heat. His other dunk came against the Indiana Pacers back on October 3rd just before halftime.
It's also important to note that Eric Gordon has been soaring while dealing with back spasms. As someone who has dealt with back problems, it's fair to say one doesn't fully trust their physical abilities for some time even after the pain has subsided for fear of re-injury. After missing the game against the Chicago Bulls, Gordon played in the Pelicans next match-up and threw it down in transition against the Rockets (the dunk is at the 34 second mark).
Another possible sign that Gordon may have regained a step or two is evidenced by his free throw attempts. During the preseason, he posted a 36 minute average of 8.2 trips to the charity stripe. His highest regular season career mark is 7.5, his first year with the then-Hornets, the season he last displayed an ability to dunk the basketball.
As I said in the introduction, preseason statistics should normally be taken with a grain of salt, but since Gordon's free throw attempts seem to be coinciding with an ability to throw it down again, everyone should be paying attention.
"If I am healthy," Gordon says, "I can still go back to the player I was."
Maybe, just maybe, he'll end up being right, and fans will finally get a chance to see the player they thought they traded for Chris Paul so long ago.