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Rockets 2021 player previews: Eric Gordon

EG is an enigma. Which version will we get?

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Gordon

The enigma of Eric Gordon. Capable of going bananas at any moment, like the 50-piece he laid on the Utah Jazz last January with both James Harden and Russell Westbrook out. But also capable of extended stretches of stinkers, as he went 14 for his last 58 triples in the regular season.

He also had his most injury-riddled campaign since he joined the Houston Rockets in 2016, and as a result, also had his worst statistical season since coming to H-town. Of course, this is all coming directly after EG signed a massive contract extension for four years and $75 million, including $54 million guaranteed, which makes his down year that much more unpalatable.

But there is good news. EG has looked thin, athletic, and fast so far this preseason, but as is the EG enigma, he’s also already struggling with soreness after games, and part of me wonders whether the 31-year-old, who’s never exactly been known as a shining beacon of health, may be hitting the portion of his career where he’s essentially nicked up all the time.

The other good news is that Gordon is finally tradable after the trade hold directly after a signing a contract expired. If the Rockets want to move him, they can now. But again, in true enigma fashion, who’s gonna want that deal if Gordon isn’t producing? If he is producing, why would Houston want to move him, especially if they are competing?

Either way, the best place for Gordon on this year’s squad is coming off the bench. New head coach Stephen Silas may be tempted to start him at times alongside James Harden and John Wall, but I think we’ve seen in the past that EG is better more consistently when he’s coming off the bench, and with this roster, he would have a real shot at returning to the form that won him Sixth Man of the Year in 2017 as the primary offensive weapon off the bench.

Gordon coming off of the bench would also be good for Danuel House, who is better as a sort of do-it-all guy alongside the bigger names than he is when he’s expected to carry the scoring load with the second unit. Start House, bring EG as the first guard off the bench. Silas is a smart coach, I’m sure he’ll see this.

This will be Gordon’s fifth-year in H-town, making him one of the longest-tenured Rockets after Harden. I’ve been a big EG fan in the past. But like a lot of other Houston players, this looks like a make-or-break year for him in Rockets red. Another so-so year, and they’re likely looking to move him for anything they can get either at the deadline or the following season.

But the recipe for success with EG is bring him off the bench, limit his minutes a bit to help keep him healthy, and we just might see a bounce-back year for Gordon, which would do wonders for Houston’s postseason hopes.