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Eric Gordon needs to adjust to a reserve role with the Pelicans

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Gordon appears to be the biggest loser of minutes with the return of Tyreke Evans.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, Tyreke Evans returned to the Pelicans lineup, and Alvin Gentry inserted him right into the starting lineup in place of Eric Gordon. Leading into the game, Gordon had started 371 of his 388 games in his career. Since come to New Orleans, he has come off the bench just 3 times, all returns from injury related situations.

This time around, he was 100% healthy but only saw 20 minutes of action against the Memphis Grizzlies. Norris Cole figured more prominently as evidenced by his 23 minutes. A negative +/- of 20 didn't do Gordon any favors, but I expect this will be more the norm than the exception.

Back in August, I had predicted Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans would enjoy more success among the trio during the 2015-16 season. Injuries be damned, but it appears this may eventually transpire. While Evans and Holiday sat, Gordon had a chance to cement a starting gig for the rest of the year in the first 17 games.

He has failed to deliver the goods. In dire need of play-making, he is sporting the worst assist percentage since his rookie season with the Clippers. Rebounding? Not there either. And his deadly three-point prowess? On semi-hiatus.

At 6'4'', Gordon was always destined to suffer defensively against a number of larger or more athletic opponents. Last season, he had a -1.88 DRPM and so far this year it sits at -1.48, good for 56th among other NBA shooting guards. He's too small to body up with the Klay Thompson's and Jimmy Butler's yet too slow to stay with the Brandon Knight's and Victor Oladipo's.

In essence, the best suited role for him the last several seasons has been as a perimeter scoring threat from off the bench. Monty Williams never saw it that way, as Tyreke became the reserve player, but apparently Alvin Gentry does?

Two seasons ago, Gentry was an assistant coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. He got to enjoy watching Jamal Crawford win his second Sixth Man of the Year award. When comparing the numbers of both players, Gordon this season and Crawford from two years ago, there exist many similarities.

Player Points Per 36 minutes Field Goal % Three point attempts per 36 minutes Three-point % Assist % Rebound % ORPM DRPM
Jamal Crawford 2013-14 22.0 41.6% 7.7 36.1% 17.4% 4.2% 1.75 - 2.38
Eric Gordon 2015-16 18.0 39.8% 7.8 35.1% 13.7% 3.7% 1.43 - 1.48

For fantasy managers, Gordon's new role will not be a death call of his future value. When he finds his stroke again or say the Pelicans matchup is more conducive to smaller lineups, Gordon should see in the neighborhood of 26-29 minutes and produce solid counting stats. For now, though, exercise caution. Dud stat lines potentially await.

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