The Houston Rockets are entering a new season with new expectations (kind of), and they will also likely be playing with an entirely different philosophy now that James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be sharing a backcourt.
But where does that leave Eric Gordon?
Gordon was essentially the Rockets’ No. 2 option each of the last three years, giving Mike D’Antoni a dependable 3-point shooter who could create his own shot on occasion.
Now, Gordon will obviously be Houston’s third scorer with Westbrook in tow, so how will that change his role for the 2019-20 campaign?
Here are three numbers for Gordon to target this season after signing a long-term extension this summer.
3. 75 Games
It’s no secret that Eric Gordon has been injury-prone throughout his NBA career, as he has played just one 70-game season since his rookie campaign in 2008-09.
But that one 70-game season came with the Rockets in 2016-17, and the last two years, he has appeared in 69 and 68 contests, respectively.
That’s actually good for Gordon, who averaged just 52.1 games over his first eight seasons in the league before joining Houston ahead of the 2016-17 campaign.
But it would nice if Gordon could hit 75 games again, especially considering the Rockets are not incredibly deep.
Having Gordon as your third option is not exactly a luxury due to his checkered injury history, but he has stayed relatively healthy throughout his Houston tenure. The Rockets are obviously hoping that continues this season.
2. Shoot 45 Percent from the Floor
This might be too much to ask, as this is something that Eric Gordon has not done since his rookie year over a decade ago. In each of the last five seasons, he has only shot 42 percent twice.
But with the inefficient Westbrook now on board, the Rockets need to make up that efficiency somewhere. Seeing as how Gordon is one of the team’s top scorers, he needs to be one of the guys to do it.
To be fair to Gordon, he is a solid 3-point shooter, so he owns a respectable lifetime true shooting percentage of 56 percent.
However, his true shooting percentage was at 54.9 percent last season, which is a number that definitely needs to increase and will do so as long as Gordon makes more shots.
If Gordon can hit on 45 percent of his field goal attempts, Houston’s offense will be in very good shape.
1. Average 15 Points Per Game
Eric Gordon averaged 16.2 points per game last season, and in his first two years with the Rockets, he posted 16.2 and 18.0 points a night, respectively.
Keep in mind, though, that Gordon was essentially the No. 2 scorer on the roster.
Now, Houston has two 20-point-per game scorers in Harden and Westbrook, so Gordon will likely get less shot attempts, and his scoring numbers will dip a bit as a result.
But make no mistake: the Rockets still need Gordon to be their No. 3 guy, as they don’t exactly have a ton of other options offensively.
If Gordon records 15 points per game, it should give Houston just enough balance. Harden and Westbrook are essentially locks to both register 20 a night, with Harden likely pushing 30 once again.
Of course, it would be nice for Gordon to do it efficiently, but the Rockets need him to score the basketball at an effective clip.