Eric Gordon ended his first year in Houston as the Sixth Man of the Year, and while he isn’t likely to nab the award for the second consecutive year, he was an extremely important part to Houston’s success in 2017-18.
Gordon will likely finish as a runner-up to former Rocket Lou Williams for the Sixth Man of the Year only because Williams had a career year and was his team’s best player. Smart teams usually start their best players, but what can you do?
Gordon and Williams were the only two players in the league this season to average 18 points per game off the bench, a remarkable feat. In fact, Gordon was actually scoring more this season when it was thought that his role would be reduced after Chris Paul came to town.
Last year, whenever Harden would sit, EG would create and facilitate, almost as if he was a point guard. This year, he was used mostly as a secondary option, but he flourished when more attention was placed on Harden and CP3, allowing him more space to score.
In the regular season, Gordon started 30 games, often replacing Harden or CP3 in the starting lineup. And in the regular season, he picked up where he left off last year. The offense and defense performed better statistically when he was on the court.
However, in the playoffs, EG stumbled out of the gate. In his first two games, Gordon shot 6-23 from the floor and 3-17 from behind the three-point line.
He would then get hot for a few games, and go back cold. It was an inconsistent cycle where in most cases, Gordon would underperform and act very un-Gordon-like. However, in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, something clicked.
In his signature playoff moment, Gordon shot 8-15 from the floor, sinking six of nine threes for his Rockets playoff-high 27 points in the win. After that game, it was like Gordon was a different player. He was playing more like the EG that was drafted 8th overall and the key piece in the CP3 trade nearly seven years ago.
Although his shooting streak ended on a dud in Game 7 (everyone had a bad shooting night), the Rockets would not have gotten to that point if it were not for EG’s playoff successes.
His value to the team was shown and he proved why he is one of the most important pieces to the team.
Now, entering his age-29 season, Gordon is halfway into his 4-year, $52 million he signed in 2016. He’ll make $13.5 million next season, which is a pretty close to his current valuation. He isn’t the team’s most expensive player but he’s getting paid handsomely.
If he’s a Rocket next year, Gordon will have to maintain his good health, which he has done a surprisingly good job of so far in his first two seasons. However, what we saw from Gordon this year is that he is incredibly streaky. Hopefully next year we will see a little less streaky and a little more consistency.