Eric Gordon’s NBA rise

  • 12/08/2010 8:38 pm in

To know Eric Gordon’s full basketball repertoire, it’s best to go back to the beginning.

February 1, 2007.

That night, Gordon, inside North Central High School’s gym and an introduction to the big stage via an ESPN2 broadcast, cast a spell on Marcus and Jeffrey Jordan. Forty-three points on 17-of-25 shooting. A dominant, dizzying performance. Power and control at the rim. Range for days.

Air Gordon:

Gordon was often brilliant during his one-and-done, 2007-08 season in Bloomington before a wrist injury marred him in a shooting slump to end the year.

He led the Big Ten in scoring at 20.9 points per game. The league named him freshman of the year and granted him a spot on the first team all-conference.

He was too good for high school. Too good for college.

It was time for the NBA.


As the No. 7 pick in the 2008 draft, Gordon played well his rookie season. He started 65 games for Mike Dunleavy, averaged 16.1 points and hit an impressive 38.9 percent from three.

The Clippers finished 19-63.

In 2009-10, Gordon stayed the course: 16.9 points per game, 37.1 percent from three.

The Clippers finished 29-53.

So far, so good enough.

After two years, Gordon proved to be a good shooter that drew fouls at a strong rate, but wasn’t quite attacking the way he’d shown he was capable of in high school and college — his jaw-dropping power had gone underutilized.

But it is a new NBA season. And things have changed. Gordon has unleashed the beast in 2010-11.

With new coach Vinny Del Negro, Gordon is now getting after it a little more. He’s averaging 5.6 attempts at the rim per game (and connecting on an impressive 64.3 percent of them), up from 3.9 attempts his rookie season and 4.5 a season ago.

He’s doing things like this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

A quarter of the way through the season, Gordon is sporting a PER of 21.43, which ranks fourth among shooting guards behind Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobili and Dwyane Wade.

His scoring average has risen to 24.3 points a game. With Baron Davis injured for part of the year and rookie Eric Bledsoe as his backup, Gordon has also had to take on a dual distributor role at times with Bledose, and is averaging a career-high 4.5 assists per game.

With a young core of Gordon (21), Bledsoe (20) and Blake Griffin (21), a rookie of the year candidate with an impressive highlight reel of his own, there’s a buzz around this team, despite their 5-17 record.

If there is a catch to Gordon’s rise in 2010-11, it’s that his 3-point shot has disappeared a bit. He’s only hitting 25.5 percent of them, which is well below his marks his first two seasons. (A bothersome shoulder could be to blame for part of the drop.)

But EJ is showing signs of taking the next step in his career so far this season. And if he can find that 3-point shot again, he’ll be that much more difficult to guard.

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  • Lug

    Lord only knows how many times my friends and I watched this game on DVR what a bunch of losers we are :). Went and saw him at Harding HS what an experience that was. He had a couple of high flying dunks that just left the gym silent…….amazing. Thanks Gordon for coming to IU.

  • Anonymous

    His shot just hasn’t been the same since his wrist injury…he hit pretty much everything for IU until he was hurt. Since, he’s gone from being one of the best shooters I’ve seen to being just an above average NBA 3-point shooter. If he could recover even half of what he was, (and wrist injuries take time, 3+ years wouldn’t be unheard of) he could average near 30 a game. He needs to get out of a Clipper uniform though. There’s no future for anyone there, not as long as Sterling owns the team.

    How good would the Bulls be with him at the 2? Not a Bulls fan, but that’d be one of the best lineups in the league, and I think all of us spent a good deal imagining him sharing a backcourt with D. Rose.

  • Anonymous

    Said it since I saw him play in high school and at IU (he and DJ were the only bright spots to my otherwise abysmal 4 years of IU bball), he will end up as the 2nd best NBA player to come out of IU after Zeke. He is strong, smart, usually has a good shot, and is starting to fully realize his potential. Not mentioned in the article is the fact that if he works on his D a little more he could be one of the top defensive guards in the league.

    He and Griffin seem to really be developing some great chemistry, too, and that is one of the scarier combinations in the league, assuming the Clippers curse doesn’t strike again. These two are making the Clips worth watching and Bill Simmons has been absolutely drooling over their collective potential.

  • I failed to look at this in the long-term, but I like the idea of Gordon ending up as the second best IU pro outside of Isiah Thomas.

    He is certainly on that trajectory.

  • Anonymous

    I’m just gonna say what I know everyone else in central Indiana is thinking. EJ would look great wearing the blue and gold.

  • Anonymous

    Looooove EJ. He just oozes potential. That said, if he wants to contend for championship, his stats will drop as I see him being an ideal #2 option on a contender. Granted he could be that with Blake Griffin as the #1 option, but the Clippers need serious upgrades at the point guard and small forward positions.

    Not old enough to legitimately make this claim since I’ve seen neither play live, but both Walt Bellamy (HOFamer) and George McGinnis had ridiculous professional careers after attending IU. In the modern era, certainly Eric will trail only Isiah if he continues his stellar play.

  • This was in my first draft, but I re-arranged some stuff and it got dropped.

    Interesting how he made Team USA because of his long-range shooting, and now it’s the only part of his game that’s taken a hit this season.

    It’s been pointed out that a lot of the players on the team — Kevin Love, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook — have taken another step along with Gordon this season.

  • Anonymous

    Bellamy and McGinnis were the two I listed when I tried to answer this earlier, but I wasn’t on my home computer and it wasn’t taking the posts.

  • Anonymous

    I can easily see the argument for both Bellamy and McGinnis (although McGinnis is known just as much for his selfish and careless play as much as his startling potential), but I don’t usually consider players prior to the ABA-NBA merger and McGinnis was a shadow of himself by the time he played in the NBA. That being said, I should have at least mentioned them. Good point.