The most significant attribute for Eric Gordon when he joined the Houston Rockets in 2016 was to be a spark plug off the bench. It was a role he played for his first four seasons. Gordon averaged 16.5 points on 40.8 percent shooting from the field and played a vital role in helping the Rockets become contenders in the Western Conference.
But when the franchise decided to begin a rebuild in 2021, Gordon’s role changed. No longer was he Houston’s Sixth-Man. Gordon found himself starting consistently for a team that finished with the league’s worst record at 17-55.
Gordon replicated the role a year later. The results for the Rockets were the same. At 33-years-old, Gordon’s position on the team was not to provide Houston a scoring lift. His most vital role was to be a mentor for a team that featured four 19-year-old rookies.
Gordon’s mentorship was one reason behind the prompt development for the Rockets. But none more notably than Kevin Porter Jr.
“I am learning each day and every game. E.G. is one of our guys. He’s been a vet to me ever since I got here. It would have been hard on me if a trade did happen. Gordon is one of our guys, and we want him here as long as we can have him.” — Porter
Gordon’s name was constantly in rumors until the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10. But Gordon continued to provide the Rockets with a lavish on-court production.
Before Houston decided to shut their veterans down for the year, Gordon registered one of his best seasons as a member of the Rockets. Gordon began his 14th season shooting 43.0 percent from behind the arc. His effort and on-court productivity started to rival the play that ensued in Gordon receiving Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2017. And at times, Gordon’s production helped Houston win 19 out of their 20 wins.
His best game of the year took place on Dec. 13 against the Atlanta Hawks. He scored a season-high 32 points while connecting on five out of his eight shot attempts from deep to lead the Rockets to a 132-126 road comeback victory.
But Gordon’s best moment of the season came during Houston’s 139-130 overtime victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. The night would belong to Jalen Green after scoring a career-high 32 points in the win. But the highlight of the game came at the 6:49 mark of the first quarter.
Gordon received an outlet pass from Porter and proceeded to break LeBron James down with a crossover that left the future Hall-of-Famer in circles.
But the joy Gordon felt in the two games came a dime in a dozen. Most of Gordon’s nights ended in frustration as the consistent losing started to take its toll. The Rockets won an average of 54.2 games during Gordon’s first four seasons. Over the last two campaigns, Houston won an average of 18.5 games.
Gordon has potentially played his final game with the Rockets. With several teams looking to bolster their championship window this offseason, it’s more manageable for General Manager Rafael Stone to find a trade partner.
But should he return for his seventh season in Houston, expect Gordon to retain his role as the elder statesman inside the walls of the Toyota Center.
Gordon appeared in 57 games for the 20-62 Rockets. He averaged 13.4 points per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from behind the arc.