The Rockets have made three (if you count Nene) key signings in free agency so far, and two of those players happen to be knockdown shooters and come from the same team. You already know who those players are: Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon. You also most likely know the media's reaction to these signings (spoiler: they're not pretty). We've already taken a look at Ryan Anderson's fit with the Rockets, so let's take a closer look at Eric Gordon's game and how he can fit in with the Rockets next season.
The Rockets signed Gordon to a 4 year/$53 million deal, which is a very fair deal for a guard with the offensive talent that Gordon has. Gordon presumably could have gotten more money from a worse team trying to make a desperate splash in free agency, but decided to join his pal Ryan Anderson in Houston.
The reason this deal contains a good amount of risk is because of Gordon's injury history. Gordon has only played over 70 games in a season once (!!!) in his eight year career. Gordon has suffered major injuries to his right knee, wrist, hand, and left shoulder. He has also suffered minor injuries from time to time, keeping him off the court on a consistent basis.
However, I'm not here to discuss and analyze his injury history. Rockets fans will just have to hope he can stay on the court for at least 60-65 games. I'm actually here to discuss Gordon's game and where I believe he should fit in to the Rockets rotations next season.
Gordon is a very good shooter. I repeat, Gordon is a very good shooter. Let that sink in Rockets fans. I know we are all not used to that description being thrown around over the past couple of years. Gordon is a career 38% three point shooter, and he even hit 45% of his 315 attempts in the 2014-2015 season. Just take a look at Gordon's shot chart and marvel at his Morey-esque game:
However, Gordon isn't just a shooter. He can be an effective rim attacker and play-maker with the ball in his hands, which suits him to not only lead the second unit, but to also play alongside Harden for stretches (more on that in a bit). Gordon has averaged 3.5 apg per 36 minutes throughout his career, proving he can lead an offense with the ball in his hands for stretches of a game. Check out some of Gordon's highlights from last season, which include several drives to the rim:
Now, the question begs: what should Gordon's role be next season (and in the foreseeable future)? I am of the opinion that Gordon would be best suited coming off the bench in the sixth man role. With Nene joining the Rockets, it is unclear if D-MO will be retained, but if he is, a second unit of Gordon-KJ-Beasley-Motiejunas (or Nene) and whoever the backup point guard is can be a dynamic bench unit. Gordon would certainly contend for sixth man of the year if he can stay healthy, and just imagine how fun it would be to watch Gordon, Beasley, and D-MO run D'Antoni's system.
Although I believe Gordon should come off the bench, as Ethan wrote yesterday, Gordon should certainly play with Harden at point guard for various stretches in order to unlock the true potential of this Rockets offense. Gordon would ease Harden's burden on offense as a result of his knockdown shooting and play-making abilities. And unlike Ty Lawson, Gordon's shooting allows him to effectively play off the ball.
Although a back court of Harden and Gordon (with Anderson at the four) would be terrible defensively, a) the Rockets probably don't care about that at this point and b) with improved effort and switching on defense, that lineup (with Ariza and Capela) can survive defensively for stretches. Gordon has posted a career DBPM of -2.1 and as he has lost his athleticism over the years (mainly due to his injuries), struggles to defend quicker guards, making him a defensive liability against point guards or shooting guards.
We all know the Rockets will surely be poor defensively, meaning their offense will have to be explosive. Playing Gordon with Harden for stretches allows the Rockets to explore the true potential of this new Rockets team. However, Gordon is best suited coming off the bench in a sixth man role leading the second unit. D'Antoni should surely stagger Gordon's minutes with Harden's so they can play together for stages of games, allowing the Rockets to unlock their true offensive potential.
This is all assuming Gordon can stay on the court. All we can do is hope that he does.