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.
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:
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.