In the second installment of 3-on-3, three ClipperBlog contributors discuss Eric Gordon’s 2010-2011 season, his All-Star potential and if he can be trusted with the game on the line.
1. True or False: Gordon surprised you last season.
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: True. I’ve fallen victim to pointing out Gordon’s PER jump as a testament to his improved game, but really it was likely inflated a bit much by his higher volume shooting. The real development was EJ’s running the pick-and-roll shockingly well, helping him remain pretty effective despite down shooting. Didn’t see that coming.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: True. The rap on Gordon going into last season was that he was too passive. But Baron’s early season health issues and Blake’s inexperience forced Gordon to assert himself early and often, a role he clearly came to embrace. If anything, Vinny Del Negro’s challenge this season will be finding enough shots for his two budding stars.
Charlie Widdoes, ClipperBlog: Mostly false. I expected him to make the jump to be a more assertive scorer in his second season, so to see him do so in his third came as little surprise. He missed a fair amount of games due to injury (26), and that wasn’t surprising either. The slight surprise came from his development as a vocal leader, starting with his training camp takedown of Baron Davis.
2. True or False: Gordon will be an All-Star in a Clippers uniform.
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: True. If you get the shots and do reasonably well, people are going to vote for you. With the Clippers getting a lot more national attention and Gordon looking like the 1b. option on offense, he should be able to overtake other aging shooting guards to make the All-Star game at least once during his time with the Clippers.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: True — a “provisional true.” Assuming that Gordon signs with the Clips as a restricted free agent in a couple years, he has a great shot. The Western Conference’s elite 2-guards, Kobe and Manu, are in their mid 30’s. If Gordon puts up last year’s numbers on a playoff team, he has a good chance of eventually snatching a spot.
Charlie Widdoes, ClipperBlog: True. This is a three part question: 1) How long will he be a Clipper (at least through the contract extension he’ll sign post-lockout), 2) Will he play at an “All-Star level” (he already does), and 3) Will voters reward his play (the most difficult one, but I’d say yes because Kobe and Manu will fade, the Clippers will win, and his profile will benefit from playing with Blake).
3. True or False: You can trust Gordon to handle the ball in big spots.
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: True. The Clippers have two consistent offensive options. One is Gordon, the other is Griffin. EJ’s turnovers per-36 minutes are basically the same as Blake’s, and EJ is a slightly more versatile player with the ball in his hands. As well, his clutch stats last season were excellent. I’m not recommending isolating EJ one-on-one late, but I would have him run a pick-and-roll, come off a screen, etc.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: False. No one’s better or more reliable slashing to the basket off the pick-and-roll. But in end-game situations, when defenses key on stopping the pick-and-roll, Gordon has often been guilty of trying to do too much, either dribbling himself into a corner or making ill-advised passes in traffic. A coach-enforced moratorium on passing while Gordon is in the air would be a good start.
Charlie Widdoes, ClipperBlog: True. Gordon is like Neftali Feliz, closer for the Texas Rangers. The “tools” are there for both — for Feliz it’s the super-smooth delivery that produces a high-90’s fastball and for Gordon it’s the special mix of quickness, power and touch — but sometimes they just can’t find the strike zone or hang onto the ball. They can make your heart race, but I’ll still bank on their talent winning out.