Isaiah Thomas called Eric Gordon "a hell of a player," but.. "Coach said ... Eric Gordon can help them or help us with the way he plays."— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 8, 2015
Against the Celtics, Gordon did nothing in his 16 minutes of action: 0 points (0-2 FG's), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover and 2 personal fouls. Alvin Gentry limited his playing time, along with Tyreke Evans', because they failed to do anything positive during the time on the court. Indeed, in their 34 combined minutes, the duo had a plus/minus of -31!
In the team's five wins, Gordon has a solid line of 18.0 points, 3.6 made three-pointers and 2.8 assists on a shooting line of 42.2 FG% / 42.9 3FG% / 90.0 FT%. He has the best Net Rating (+16.3) on the team, even surpassing Anthony Davis +15.2. His plus/minus (12.8) and the amount of personal fouls are tops as well.
Following losses, Gordon's average stat line drops to 15.6 points, 2.1 threes and 2.9 assists on 40.4 FG% / 32.0 3FG% / 85.1 FT%. His Net Rating (-14.4) falls to 3rd worst on the team, trailing only Alonzo Gee and Omer Asik and his plus/minus craters to -10.0, the worst figure in New Orleans.
So what's to blame?
Well, the cop-out answer of a whole bunch of stuff is quite applicable (i.e. short sample size, team has been very bad overall in most losses, etc), but one interesting thing does stand out: Gordon's shot selection.
In the wins, Gordon has nearly twice as many shot attempts from behind the three-point line (65.6 %FGA) as inside the arc (34.4 %FGA). In addition, he is assisted on 77.8% of his made field goals.
When looking through the losses, Gordon 2-point attempts surpass the threes (52.8 vs. 47.2) and his assisted on percentage plummets to 52.3%.
As witnessed all last year, Gordon is not a good finisher at the rim, nor does he get the adequate amount of whistles and get to the free throw line. Interestingly, some of his athleticism has returned as evidenced by his 6 dunks on the season (he tallied 0 in 2018 minutes played in 2014-15), but it hasn't translated as well as one would have hoped. From 0-3 feet, his field goal percentage is a paltry 50.7%, an improvement over last season's 46.4% but remains far from satisfactory.
Seemingly, when Gordon remains on the perimeter and becomes more of a secondary option, serving primarily as a spot-up perimeter shooter, good things have transpired for the Pelicans. However, this isn't to say Gordon should look to be as passive as a Kyle Korver on offense. The Pelicans need for him to look for his offense a little more, not rely on those around him to soak up all the usage. In return, the ball-handlers must do a better job of finding him, at least until the team's ball movement morphs into a work of art.
Against Boston, Gordon had a minuscule usage rate of 8.8%. Before tearing his shoulder labrum last season, he posted a 16.0 USG%. It was noticeable he took a backseat to the combination of Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday. With Evans having recently returned to the lineup, Gordon cannot allow himself to fade that far into the background again. The Pelicans do not want for him to become one of the team's central playmakers, but he needs to assert himself on a game-by-game basis to keep defenses honest. Get out in transition, actively seek finding seams on the perimeter and occasionally cut back-door to keep opponents on their toes.
Similar to how he filled the valuable role of the Pelicans best and most consistent deep threat among the starters once he returned from his shoulder injury in 2014-15, he needs to re-emerge as an aggressive and lethal outside shooter, especially for as long as Quincy Pondexter is sidelined. His skill set begs for it and his teammates' demands it. Starting alongside 3 invisible perimeter threats in Evans, Alonzo Gee and Omer Asik, the Pelicans cannot afford Eric Gordon continue to help out opponents as echoed by Isaiah Thomas.
Perhaps someone should remind him he's in a contract year before Friday's game against the Wizards?