The Unsung Hero: Eric Gordon Is An Intricate Part of the Rockets Success This Season
Brian Barefield | 4/5/2019, 10:49 a.m.
With less than a week left in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Houston Rockets are looking to secure the number three seed in the Western Conference playoffs. If the cards fall right they may even be able to move up behind the Golden State Warriors for the number two spot if the Denver Nuggets have a couple of setbacks and Houston wins out. The Rockets needs to stay in that spot to avoid an early matchup with the 2018 NBA Finals champs Golden State Warriors.
One player who could help them secure that spot and potentially lead them back to the Western Conference Finals is shooting guard Eric Gordon. He tends to be overlooked on a team that has potential back-to-back MVP James Harden, a for sure first ballot Hall of Famer in Chris Paul, and a center who has been on point since the All-Star break (16.5 points per game and 12.6 rebounds) in Clint Capela. The 6’4 combo guard has done everything asked of him on this team including coming off the bench when the Rockets had Carmelo Anthony, but coach Mike D’Antoni realized that strategy was not going to work.
“Eric is one of those guys we need to have in the game early so he can get a rhythm going. He finds spots on the floor that the defense can’t adjust to quickly and takes advantage of that,” said D’Antoni of Gordon who is averaging 16.3 points per game while shooting 35% from three-point range.
After spending one year at Indiana University, Gordon declared himself eligible for the 2008 NBA draft where he was the seventh pick in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers. He was a unanimous pick for the All-Rookie second team and spent a total of three seasons with the Clippers before spending the next five with the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans. Often hampered with injuries during his time in the “Big Easy,” Gordon became a free agent and signed a four-year $54 million dollar contract with the Houston Rockets. Coach D’Antoni used his knowledge of what he knew from the U.S.A. Basketball Camp to get the 2016-17 NBA Sixth Man of The Year to buy into his system of shooting from the perimeter rather than driving to the lane.
That transition worked very well for Gordon and the Rockets last year as they won a franchise record 65 games and took the Warriors to seven games in the 2018 Western Conference Finals. This year has been tough as he has dealt with some injuries that caused him to miss some playing time this season. He was sidelined in late December for eight games during a stretch where Chris Paul was injured, and the Rockets were having a terrible month. Now all he wants to do is get his team over the hump in the playoffs and potentially play for a championship.
“We are trying to win the rest of these games for the rest of the year and develop championship habits,” said Gordon after a win against the Sacramento Kings.