Eric Gordon: Perception vs. reality

  • 03/11/2008 9:00 am in

ejslam.jpgThere seems to exist two schools of thought on Eric Gordon. The first comes from the national pundits and talking heads: Eric Gordon is an excellent combo guard, one with unlimited range, a sure lottery pick. (He is, after all, the NBA’s next big star.)

But there’s the other school of thought, held most closely by IU fans that have watched Gordon the past few months. It takes all the good stuff into account but splashes in the fact that he’s a turnover machine, a poor ball handler who is erratic and oftentimes out of control when he drives to the hoop. Add that to the fact he’s in an horrific shooting slump — Gordon’s currently a woeful 10 of his last 50 (!!!) from behind the three-point line) and you can’t help but think there’s more than a few flaws in Gordon’s game, ones people that are only getting a cursory view of Gordon are missing. (However, a shooting slump is just that: a slump. If there’s one thing I’m confident in about Gordon’s game, it’s his long-range jumper. That and his ability to get to the free throw line.)

I also always thought Gordon was head and shoulder’s above USC’s O.J. Mayo. Mayo has to jack up a million shots to get his points. Gordon could shoot eight shots a game and still go 20+ because he gets to the line so much. But after reading David Berri’s win score/eFG analysis of EJ and Mayo, turns out they’re not really all that different.

When we look at Gordon across these games, we do see that his woeful shooting on Sunday was an anomaly. Gordon’s adjusted field goal percentage is 54.2%, which is quite good.

Let me put Gordon’s shooting in perspective. The other top shooting guard who is expected to be available in the NBA draft is O.J. Mayo of USC. Mayo’s adjusted field goal percentage is 53.0%, and again, that’s quite good. Despite this performance, though, here is how Chad Ford describes Mayo at ESPN.com.

It’s clear Mayo’s going to be a great NBA scorer … but will he give a team anything else?

When we compare Gordon and Mayo we see that the latter produces more – on a per-minute basis – rebounds, assists, and steals. Mayo also commits fewer turnovers. In sum, if we are concerned that Mayo isn’t going to give anything beyond scoring, shouldn’t we have the same concern about Gordon? And yet, in the mock drafts I have seen, Gordon is consistently rated as the better prospect (and Ford describes Gordon as a “do-it-all combo guard that is already lighting up the box score”)

And later, when comparing Gordon and Mayo to NBA players:

When we turn to Win Score – a metric that can tell us something about lighting up a box score — we see little reason to be optimistic about Gordon or Mayo. Entering Sunday’s action, Gordon had posted a 6.7 Win Score per 40 minutes (WS40) played. Mayo has a mark of 6.0. When we look at all shooting guards drafted out of college between 1991 and 2006 (and who played at least some significant minutes in the NBA), we see an average WS40 of 8.7 the last year the player played college basketball. In other words, Gordon and Mayo are far below average.

To put “far below average” in perspective, here are the shooting guards with a WS40 below 7.0 (again from 1991 to 2006): Kareem Rush, Kirk Snyder, Toby Bailey, Tony Dumas, Lawrence Moten, Courtney Alexander, Ed Gray, DeJuan Wheat, Chris Smith, Jimmy King, Felipe Lopez, Larry Hughes, and Jamal Crawford.

Now, this is but one metric, but I think it’s an effective tool in solidifying some of our gripes and qualms about the guy. Is Gordon the best freshman in the Big Ten? Yes. Is he the best freshman in the country? Debatable. (I’d go with Michael Beasley.) Is he going to be a lottery pick? Most likely. Could he stand another year at IU, one in which a new coach will reign him in (something Sampson, and now Dakich, refuse to do), thus cutting down his turnovers and making him an overall more effective basketball player? Absolutely.

But he’ll go pro. And I don’t blame him in the least. He’s immensely talented and he should go get his money while he can. I just very badly want him to succeed at the next level. After watching him play this Big Ten season and looking at his Win Score comparisons, I’m worried he won’t. (Not to mention, undersized shooting guards aren’t really the norm in the NBA.)

Am I crazy here? Does this seems like a sound base of logic to anyone else? Get it poppin’ in the comments, friends.

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  • Mike in NC

    Mark it down, EJ will go high in the draft and will have a mediocre NBA career.

  • Mike in NC

    Mark it down, EJ will go high in the draft and will have a mediocre NBA career.

  • knasmiley

    Mike, I think EVERYBODY associated with scouting players for the NBA, NBA GMs themsleves, heck ANYONE with any sense would disagree with you…………..

    This kid has ALL the tools, is as quick as any guard in the open court and he can drain it from deep. Once he gets that wrap off of his arm he is going to explode like he did before he hurt his arm…….

    I heard IF IU hires the right coach that EJ might come back, that is solid info too for all the doubters, I dont care who told you what………………

  • knasmiley

    Mike, I think EVERYBODY associated with scouting players for the NBA, NBA GMs themsleves, heck ANYONE with any sense would disagree with you…………..

    This kid has ALL the tools, is as quick as any guard in the open court and he can drain it from deep. Once he gets that wrap off of his arm he is going to explode like he did before he hurt his arm…….

    I heard IF IU hires the right coach that EJ might come back, that is solid info too for all the doubters, I dont care who told you what………………

  • RW

    I understand the money is crazy and the risk of injury factors a little but I think another year at IU could help Gordon. And with the coaching position up in the air that does not fair well for IU. Still unsure of what if any thing will happen with Greenspan and then at the hearings this summer. But I also thank EJ for coming to Bloomington even if he is one and done. As well as a thank you to the seniors for all the memories! GO HOOSIERS!

  • RW

    I understand the money is crazy and the risk of injury factors a little but I think another year at IU could help Gordon. And with the coaching position up in the air that does not fair well for IU. Still unsure of what if any thing will happen with Greenspan and then at the hearings this summer. But I also thank EJ for coming to Bloomington even if he is one and done. As well as a thank you to the seniors for all the memories! GO HOOSIERS!

  • JC FLA

    Eric Gordan is the next Jameer Nelson…10.5 points/game, 3 rebounds/game, 9 turnovers/game and an average of 6 of his shots blocked/game.

    His numbers this year are impressive but without the help of the Big Ten conference player of the year in DJ White he wouldn't be where he is statisically.

  • JC FLA

    Eric Gordan is the next Jameer Nelson…10.5 points/game, 3 rebounds/game, 9 turnovers/game and an average of 6 of his shots blocked/game.

    His numbers this year are impressive but without the help of the Big Ten conference player of the year in DJ White he wouldn't be where he is statisically.

  • JamesHardy

    I've got two words for you…Dwayne Wade.

    EJ is is most comparible to D-Wade in drivability, defense, finishing at the rim, and scoring punch. With that being said…look how advantageous it was for Wade to stay at Marquette for FOUR years? Could you imagine the pro that EJ could be if he were to solidify his game at the college level instead of riding the pine for a lottery team for the next 4 years? I'm not buying his size as a negative for his pro career. Wade and EJ are basically the same size and Wade was 5th in the league in scoring before the heat shut him down to increase their chances at Beasley. Hopefully, someone MATURE steps in and tells this kid that he's NOT ready for the pro game. Someone needs to show him the results of Wade were caused by refining his game at the college level. He may not need all four years, but he definitely needs one more.

  • JamesHardy

    I've got two words for you…Dwayne Wade.

    EJ is is most comparible to D-Wade in drivability, defense, finishing at the rim, and scoring punch. With that being said…look how advantageous it was for Wade to stay at Marquette for FOUR years? Could you imagine the pro that EJ could be if he were to solidify his game at the college level instead of riding the pine for a lottery team for the next 4 years? I'm not buying his size as a negative for his pro career. Wade and EJ are basically the same size and Wade was 5th in the league in scoring before the heat shut him down to increase their chances at Beasley. Hopefully, someone MATURE steps in and tells this kid that he's NOT ready for the pro game. Someone needs to show him the results of Wade were caused by refining his game at the college level. He may not need all four years, but he definitely needs one more.

  • JamesHardy

    call your parole officer…cuz its time for your drug test! Screw Pitino! Bring on Bennett! Time for Tony!!! hasta la vista DD!

  • JamesHardy

    call your parole officer…cuz its time for your drug test! Screw Pitino! Bring on Bennett! Time for Tony!!! hasta la vista DD!

  • JamesHardy

    “It's as if they tell him to just shoot it and that's our offense.”

    ~um…those are almost word for word KS's words after the Illinois game~

  • JamesHardy

    “It's as if they tell him to just shoot it and that's our offense.”

    ~um…those are almost word for word KS's words after the Illinois game~

  • steve

    This is the best post and most accurate of any on here. Great obsevation kelin! I am just sick and tired of everyone on here saying that EJ is not as good as they first thought. IU's current offense is not for EJ. The worst part of all this is that our coaching staff has failed to utilize one of the best freshman in the country. A major part of this comes down to ellis and crawford. If you have went to any games this year you can see it in the warm-ups as well as the game that elis and crawford have a problem with EJ.

  • steve

    This is the best post and most accurate of any on here. Great obsevation kelin! I am just sick and tired of everyone on here saying that EJ is not as good as they first thought. IU's current offense is not for EJ. The worst part of all this is that our coaching staff has failed to utilize one of the best freshman in the country. A major part of this comes down to ellis and crawford. If you have went to any games this year you can see it in the warm-ups as well as the game that elis and crawford have a problem with EJ.

  • Jerry

    Interesting comparison but Wade had natural point guard skills.

    I think if we were having beers together I would have used Ben Gordon as the comparison however. Good shot, drives but could not pass until UCONN had injuries and forced him to develop skills at the point. His development at point was rapid and he single handedly won the big east tournament his last year at that position…………………….never to return to it however but the experience enhanced his game. It would be good for EJ too

  • Jerry

    Interesting comparison but Wade had natural point guard skills.

    I think if we were having beers together I would have used Ben Gordon as the comparison however. Good shot, drives but could not pass until UCONN had injuries and forced him to develop skills at the point. His development at point was rapid and he single handedly won the big east tournament his last year at that position…………………….never to return to it however but the experience enhanced his game. It would be good for EJ too

  • GARY ATKINSON

    you just showed what you know about talent–he will be awesome–but he should play college ball another year–and that has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with experience in different situations–he will be a machine in any case

  • GARY ATKINSON

    you just showed what you know about talent–he will be awesome–but he should play college ball another year–and that has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with experience in different situations–he will be a machine in any case

  • JamesHardy

    I can see the Ben Gordon comparisons too…I just think EJ has D-Wade's speed and power going to the rack. EJ has more range than Wade, his range is comparible to that of B. Gordon. It sounds like he's actually a gentle mix of both.

  • JamesHardy

    I can see the Ben Gordon comparisons too…I just think EJ has D-Wade's speed and power going to the rack. EJ has more range than Wade, his range is comparible to that of B. Gordon. It sounds like he's actually a gentle mix of both.

  • JamesHardy

    WELL EXCUSE ME…mr. nostradomus! I bow to your superior stupidity…I mean psychic powers

  • JamesHardy

    WELL EXCUSE ME…mr. nostradomus! I bow to your superior stupidity…I mean psychic powers

  • It's sound logic for sure. And if that list is compiled from college stats (something I'm not entirely clear on), it proves to be a pretty good indicator of who will be good in the pros.

    Two things though:
    1) The NBA game is different. Specifically in Gordon's case, the spacing is so much wider. He'll have a lot more room to operate on an NBA floor than on a college floor.
    2) What we've heard about Gordon for two years now is how coachable he is and how hard he works. I don't think that's going to change once he's in the league.

    The Wages of Wins article is a great look at what Gordon's floor is. A Jamal Crawford type who doesn't have a position, can't defend larger guards, and can drop 50 points in a game, or score 5 points on 2-13 shooting. I personally think Gordon can avoid that though.

  • It's sound logic for sure. And if that list is compiled from college stats (something I'm not entirely clear on), it proves to be a pretty good indicator of who will be good in the pros.

    Two things though:
    1) The NBA game is different. Specifically in Gordon's case, the spacing is so much wider. He'll have a lot more room to operate on an NBA floor than on a college floor.
    2) What we've heard about Gordon for two years now is how coachable he is and how hard he works. I don't think that's going to change once he's in the league.

    The Wages of Wins article is a great look at what Gordon's floor is. A Jamal Crawford type who doesn't have a position, can't defend larger guards, and can drop 50 points in a game, or score 5 points on 2-13 shooting. I personally think Gordon can avoid that though.

  • tberry

    Forget all the negative arguments about Gordon leaving. He is gone.

    Someone will offer him a lot of money and he, just like you , will take it and run. Better to forget about Gordon.

    This year and Gotrdon are almost gone. The future is what we should be looking to.

  • tberry

    Forget all the negative arguments about Gordon leaving. He is gone.

    Someone will offer him a lot of money and he, just like you , will take it and run. Better to forget about Gordon.

    This year and Gotrdon are almost gone. The future is what we should be looking to.

  • JamesHardy

    I can see the Ben Gordon comparisons too…I just think EJ has D-Wade's speed and power going to the rack. EJ has more range than Wade, his range is comparible to that of B. Gordon. It sounds like he's actually a gentle mix of both.

  • JamesHardy

    WELL EXCUSE ME…mr. nostradomus! I bow to your superior stupidity…I mean psychic powers

  • It's sound logic for sure. And if that list is compiled from college stats (something I'm not entirely clear on), it proves to be a pretty good indicator of who will be good in the pros.

    Two things though:
    1) The NBA game is different. Specifically in Gordon's case, the spacing is so much wider. He'll have a lot more room to operate on an NBA floor than on a college floor.
    2) What we've heard about Gordon for two years now is how coachable he is and how hard he works. I don't think that's going to change once he's in the league.

    The Wages of Wins article is a great look at what Gordon's floor is. A Jamal Crawford type who doesn't have a position, can't defend larger guards, and can drop 50 points in a game, or score 5 points on 2-13 shooting. I personally think Gordon can avoid that though.

  • tberry

    Forget all the negative arguments about Gordon leaving. He is gone.

    Someone will offer him a lot of money and he, just like you , will take it and run. Better to forget about Gordon.

    This year and Gotrdon are almost gone. The future is what we should be looking to.