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Eric Gordon expected to start for Rockets alongside James Harden, Russell Westbrook

Rockets, Eric Gordon, James Harden, Russell Westbrook

Eric Gordon is expected to remain in Mike D’Antoni’s starting lineup, even after Russell Westbrook joined the Houston Rockets earlier this summer. The hope is that the 30-year-old shooting guard can help as a floor spacer while ball-dominant guards like Westbrook and talisman James Harden make plays.

Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic said as much in a recent film study piece anticipating the 2019-20 season:

“What will help Westbrook is playing alongside multiple floor spacers. D’Antoni has been working with his staff throughout the offseason to tailor his offense to optimize Westbrook’s strengths. Westbrook will be paired with Eric Gordon for a majority of his minutes, especially with the second-unit. A team source told The Athletic that Gordon is also very likely to start this season alongside Harden and Westbrook.

“The idea is to have an elite athlete on the floor to rebound the basketball and create offense in transition. With more space, Westbrook will have increased possessions where he can be unpredictable and take proper advantage of his speed and utilize his array of hesitation moves.”

The Rockets had already flirted with this formula with Chris Paul during the regular season, putting it to fruition during their playoff run, as Gordon became the primary catch-and-shoot threat while also taking on some of the perimeter defensive tasks.

This likely means that the 6-foot-5 Harden will move to the small forward spot and be tasked with more rebounding (and likely defensive assignments) while Westbrook runs the point and acts as a fast break specialist that can pick apart a defense with a perimeter trailer like Gordon. Houston however can be outsized by bigger teams, but those are in-season adjustment D’Antoni will make if that becomes a constant issue.