Our series continues with one of the surprising signings this offseason by the Phoenix Suns. Just when you thought the free agency dust had settled, James Jones dropped a bomb on us with the acquisition of a 15-year veteran and former 2017 Sixth Man of the Year award winner. A name often linked to Phoenix, and someone who the Suns made a four year, $58 million offer sheet to back in 2012, none other than...
Guard, 6’3”, 215 pounds, 34-years old
Once upon a time, when Eric Gordon joined the Houston Rockets prior to the 2016-17 season, he was joining a contender. A winner. A team with championship aspirations. A team with James Harden. After three seasons with the organization that drafted him, the Los Angeles Clippers, Gordon had spent five seasons in New Orleans. Playing under head coach Monty Williams, the Hornets/Pelicans weren’t highly successful, which cause Gordon to depart via free agency.
By 2022-23, however, the Rockets had been dismantled and were fortifying their youth movement. Gordon was traded back to the Clippers in a multi-team deal, even though he was starting for the Rockets and averaged 13.1 points in 47 games. The move was a clear salary dump by Houston.
In 22 regular season games, which included 11 starts, Gordon averaged 11 points in 24.9 minutes played for the Clippers. Then came the playoffs.
In five games against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference First Round, Gordon started. He averaged 29.8 minutes played, 10.2 points on 40.9/34.5/83.3 splits. His 19-point Game 1 performance was vital to the Clippers going up 1-0 in the series, and his 7-of-14 shooting was a primary reason for their success.
Alas, he entered free agency following elimination, opting to join the team that sent him home packing.
Gordon, who has earned $176.6 million in his career, signed a two-year, $6.5 million contract this past offseason. The deal includes a second year player option.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Gordon has the ability to score on all three levels, and due to his rocksolid build, is someone who is a quality post offensive player. His ability to shoot the three-ball is both a strength and a weakness. The mere fact that he can hit it extends defenses and puts pressure on the opposition once he crosses midcourt. But sometimes he will shoot the ball from way too deep and way too early in the shot clock. His value increases if he can limit these impromptu negative possessions.
Eric is someone who has the ability to be a primary scoring option, especially with the second team unit. He is a quality one-on-one player that again, due to hsi size, can push defenders off of their spot and create separation to get his shot off. Add to the fact that he likes to penetrate the defense and get to the cylinder and Phoenix has added another player who has the ability to create his own shot. It’s been quite some time since they’ve had that wrinkle on their roster. Beep beep.
If you are looking for elite playmaking from Gordon, you will be disappointed. Per B-Ball Index, EG is in the 77%tile in playmaking, but if you use the eye test over the advanced metrics, you’ll see that he prefers to shoot rather than pass. He has a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.47 and you might find yourself asking why he didn’t dish the rock to Yuta Watanabe in the corner this season.
Given his skillset, he could find himself with the closing unit for the Suns this season. Another player who can create his own shot will leaves opposing defenses feeling like I do when I watch Christopher Nolan’s Tenet: lost.
One Key Factor
In his career Gordon has averaged 32.1 minutes per game. 77% of those games have come as a starter, but coming off the bench he has still averaged 28.1 minutes. He will have a bigger impact that I think most are prepared to see. We aren’t used to quality bench productions; we are used to trying to survive until Booker gets back on to the court.
What Gordon does with that time will be not only a key factor for him, but for the overall success of the team. Phoenix is top heavy. A player like Gordon will have the ability to stabilize lineups and keep the Suns’ engine running nice and easy like a V8 versus a four-banger redlining.
I love throwing stats out there to see how right (but typically wrong) I am. Gordon, as noted above, is vital for Phoenix this season. He’ll have the opportunity, he’ll have the green light, and he’ll have a great season for the Suns:
71 GP, 27.4 MP, 11.2 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 2.3 AST, 41.5/38.7/83.3 splits.
Time for Air Gordon to liftoff.