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Vogel: “I’m not doing a good enough job in making sure [Eric Gordon]’s involved in the offense”

He’s one of the Phoenix Suns’ best players this season. Let him cook.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at New York Knicks Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

When the Phoenix Suns signed Eric Gordon this past offseason, it was a needle mover. Coming to Phoenix for a mere $3.2 million, given the caliber of offensive player he is, was a steal. The Suns had just seen how impressive Gordon could be as he started all five games against them for the Los Angeles Clippers in the First Round of the postseason.

The 2023-24 season began, and with numerous injuries to the Suns’ starting backcourt — Devin Booker’s foot and Bradley Beal’s back — Gordon has had to step in and step up for Phoenix. He found himself in the starting lineup more times than not. Early in the season, his assistance had been paramount to their success.

And the Suns needed him.

Gordon began missing time, however, with knee soreness in early December. Since December 1, Gordon missed 3 of the Suns’ 10 games. His absence was cause for Frank Vogel to begin tinkering with the lineups. And with the tinkering has come losses. The Suns are 3-7 since the calendar turned to December.

In three games back since returning, Eric Gordon has not been utilized as he was when the season began. Phoenix focused on ensuring that Gordon would have his looks, and he took advantage of it. In his first 18 games of the season, 14 of which were starts, Gordon averaged 14.7 points on 11.9 field goal attempts.

In his 6 games since, he’s averaging 8.7 points on 8.3 attempts. And Gordon is starting to notice — and voice — his frustrations. “Early on in the season, it was better,” Eric Gordon said after Friday’s loss to Chris Haynes. “Lately I haven’t been getting hardly any touches really.”

With Bradley Beal still sitting on the bench in street clothes, the opportunity to have Gordon continue his effectiveness is there, but the offense has sputtered and stalled as coaches have looked the other way. Whether it is Frank Vogel and/or Kevin Young attempting to empower other players in hopes that their confidence builds and becomes sustainable or it’s sheer neglect, Gordon is feeling it.

“We go from winning seven in a row early on in the season and now we’ve lost eight out of eleven,” Gordon added. “So, it’s just tough with the type of team that we have. We just have to figure out the different sacrifices that we need to try to win a game.”

Gordon started against the Kings on Friday night. Gordon attempted just two shots.

Two.

“We need guys to step up,” Frank Vogel said after the Suns loss on Friday. “I got to keep moving the pieces around in terms of how we’re using certain guys. Can we get Eric Gordon more involved than I’m doing? I’m not doing a good enough job in making sure he’s involved in the offense. He’s a guy that can really help us.”

Well, Frank, we’re waiting. We’re waiting to see an offensive adjustment. We’re waiting to see if the Suns can score against bad defenses. We’re waiting to see if you will unleash the Gordon.

The team is struggling, which means frustrations are high. When Gordon makes statements about wanting to be more involved, he’s not wrong. He’s being honest and real about what he feels is occurring. He isn’t saying “trade me” and he isn’t saying “I’m unhappy”. He’s simply stating that he is being underutilized, which again, is correct.

“When I score,” Gordon told Bleacher Report’s Chris Hyanes, “It really opens up the door for a lot of people because I can score in big games and in big ways. That’s just what it is.”

EG is averaging 39% from three on 6.3 attempts. He is one of your best three-point shooters. He needs to be given a green light at all times, especially when the team is down Bradley Beal. The rest of the team surely needs to spend time in the gym fine-tuning their three-point shot, but Gordon is a professional. He knows how to ride the wave that a season brings.

The question we’re all beginning to wonder is: for how long?

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