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Thread: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

  1. #1

    Default Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    My next player I'm taking a look at in this series is a long shot for us at #11: Eric Gordon from Indiana University.

    Like most players in this draft class, opinions are mixed on Eric, a local product from Indianapolis North Central High School. I've followed his career from early on in his high school days, and saw him play several times at the high school and college level, both in person and on television.

    Gordon is an undersized 2 guard with exceptional scoring abilities and strengths, but his game also has a few flaws. He is competing with Bayless from Arizona and O.J. Mayo from USC for the first smaller shooting guard/wing type taken in this draft.

    I like Gordon very much, much more than it seems my fellow Hoosier natives and IU fans do. So far, it seems like many of the NBA experts consider that he will be picked somewhere between 5 and 10, but I have seen a few mock drafts with him going at 11. Trading up for Gordon is a gamble that many teams in the 10-16 range in the draft are going to be discussing for a while I think.

    Gordon has a great deal to offer the Pacers or any other team that drafts him, but he carries a significant risk as well. Offensively, Gordon has some awesome assets, with a few noticable flaws. I see his 2 major offensive weaknesses as being very correctable with proper coaching. If I am right about them being correctable, then Gordon can be an all star level player eventually. If they can't be corrected, he won't be in the league past his rookie contract. Before I explain his offensive advantages, let me talk about his weaknesses as I see them.

    First, as a ballhandler, Gordon dribbles the ball way too casually in traffic. For whatever reason, he bounces the ball entirely too high off the ground, and too far away from his body. This enables defenders to "dig" at him too easily in the paint, which in turn makes him lose some balance and miss shots he should make some of the time. Simply by teaching Gordon to dribble the ball lower to the ground will improve him in numerous ways, including helping his court vision (Eric is not a great distributor, because he has to watch the basketball itself instead of the defense to keep control of it) and his ability to regain balance and make shots. Gordon often takes good shots that APPEAR to be bad decisions not because they are, but because he gets knocked off balance too easily. This can be largely fixed by improving his handling of the ball on the dribble and off ball screens. Gordon just needs to bend his knees more and play lower to the ground when he is handling the ball.

    Secondly, and this is his biggest flaw by far, Gordon is an extremely poor cutter away from the ball. Not in effort, but in technique. For a lottery type player and potential great scorer at the NBA level, Gordon is one of the worst cutters off of screens I've ever watched. Almost any cutting flaw a player could have, Gordon has it.

    Gordon stares at the ball when coming off of a cut, instead of reading his man. This problem lets his defender know where he is likely to go, and beat him to spots too often. It also means that Eric is illiterate when coming off screens.....he doesnt "read" screens well at all, because he isn't looking to!

    By staring at the ball, Gordon also as a cutter faces the direction he is going to cut to. This causes him to not fake well before he cuts, and also to take off too soon before screens get to him. This is a major issue, but most likely is correctable at the next level. At least, I hope it is, or Gordon will be a bust for the team that drafts him.

    My analysis and experience tells me that Gordon has always had so many advantages athletically, that he hasn't learned the nuances of how to play yet to the most of his ability. His high school coach, Doug Mitchell, had to rely on Gordon to handle the ball too much for my taste, and this year at IU was a basketball teaching disaster. By being such a superior athlete, Gordon has not had to learn the subtleties of how to get open, how to set people up before a screen comes, etc etc.

    Can he learn these fundamentals with the right coaching staff and with the right type of players mentoring him? My guess is yes, but it is far from a sure thing. My experience tells me that some players can learn nuances later in their careers, while others will never grasp them. Gordon's private workouts for teams will tell alot about him. If you hear his stock is slipping in the middle of June, it will be for the reason that teams have decided he isnt likely to improve in these areas.

    Now, Gordon is a superior athlete. Quick, high release, with more range than almost any guard in recent memory. Other players need to develop NBA range, Gordon already has it. Some of the reason he developed it I think is that he is such a poor cutter, that he couldnt get open easily in normal areas of the floor, so to compensate he developed a longer shot. Gordon is a sniper, an assassin, with a scorers mentality when he is on the floor.

    Decision making is considered by some a flaw in his game, but I don't see that. I see a kid with correctable flaws in his mechanics, that causes him to look either selfish or taking bad guarded shots, where the real problem isnt an unwillingness to pass or a determination to be a gunner, but it's the lack of teaching that he cannot totalaly overcome yet. I actually think Gordon is a good decision maker overall, and I love his fearlessness and aggression.

    I think a big part of his game that is overlooked is defense. Gordon is aggressive, and sometimes his gambling can get him into trouble. But, he has superior quickness, excellent and quick hands, and more than any other advantage a willingness to defend when asked. Gordon is a superior "on the ball" defender, who will get lost sometimes when asked to defend players coming off screens or when he is asked to help alot. Again, his superior quickness can compensate for his off the ball defense to a degree I hope. Since Gordon hasnt been asked to always guard the opponents best player in order to protect him from fouls, this is somewhat of a projection with no real facts, but I think in crucial situations, Gordon will someday be considered an elite on the ball pressure point guard defender. I think he will be inserted into games eventually just because his in your grill pressure will be able to bother opponents, even such quality players like Deron Williams and Tony Parker. Exceptional and tenacious when he puts his mind to it on the ball, and I really like that potential in his game.

    However, since Eric can't play the point on offense, itll take some creativity by a staff to match him up defensively. For example, I think Gordon would likely be tortured by Rip Hamilton, but I think he'd give Chauncey Pillups huge problems. Ray Allen could run him ragged, but he could handle an Allen Iverson or Gilbert Arenas better than most in the league.

    I like to compare players to other players, as has been a tradition in this series. I've seen comparisons by others about Eric Gordon, such as Chicago's Ben Gordon, or even the old Piston Vinnie Johnson. I see that to a degree but I just think Gordon is much quicker, more athletic, and has more defensive potential than that. On the other hand, it is entirely possible that if Eric's major obvious flaws don't improve, he'll end up being a guy who ends up not being able to cut it at all.

    However, since I think Gordon can be taught the things I've mentioned, and because I am rooting for him as a fellow Hoosier and IU fan, I am going to give him a much higher bar to try and rise to. Due to his size limitations, superior shot making ability, and willingness to take and make big shots, and because I think his athleticism will eventually give way to him growing and adding strength and bulk, I'm going to compare Gordon to former great Tim Hardaway. Gordon has a bit more size than Hardaway, but I think they will have similar impacts and careers in the league, along with having similar strengths and weaknesses.

    Because of his flaws, weaknesses, youth, and immaturity emotionally, I hope that he doesnt go to a city with a demanding fan base like New York. Since I believe he may struggle mightily until about year 3, a place like New York I think is a terrible fit for him, although I am sure with the New staff in place there he will be a strong consideration for them. If he gets past the Knicks/Bucks area of the draft, I think a team may trade up and gamble on him......could/should we do that? There are arguments to be made either way........just another tough call for Larry Bird and David Morway to make. If a team doesnt like Gordon, and a team like us decides they do, I don't think moving up a few spots will cost as much as you might think this year. The cost may be minimal, but Eric Gordon carries more risk than I think most kids in this draft do.

    I will be very interested to see what the opinions are of Eric Gordon around the league, and on this board.

    As always, the above is just my opinion.

    Tbird
    Last edited by thunderbird1245; 05-21-2008 at 09:11 PM.

  2. #2
    Go Colts! Shade's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    As you may already know, I've been very big on EJ for a while now. I would be ecstatic if the Pacers moved up and snagged him, and I still think that's a strong possibility if Bird likes him enough.

    I also agree that it will probably take 2-3 years before Eric really starts to show what he can do in the NBA, but really, are we going to be title contenders in the next 2-3 years anyway?

    He's worth the gamble, IMO. Especially since there are absolutely no "sure things" in the range we'll be picking.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    I think that Eric Gordon can be a fine NBA player.

    I don't know that he is a good fit for Indiana though. He can't play point guard at all and being from Indiana and playing for the Hoosiers is that really a good fit for this team right now? Or is it a good fit for Eric?

    But if Gordon fell to the Pacers could anyone really be upset if the Pacers took him at 11? I think Gordon is a better prospect than Westbrook to be honest. I would just be suprised to see him fall to us at 11.

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    Boom Baby'er ABADays's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    As always, I learn a lot from tbirds analysis. But boy, this could be the mother of all gambles for the Pacers. Because of the team and attendance issues the first round pick just cannot be a bust. That would be like the franchise standing on the drop door of the gallows. I'm not sure I could pull the trigger on that one.
    The best exercise of the human heart is reaching down and picking someone else up.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Flaw #2 is one shared by many, many kids his age with his natural
    athletic gifts. He's a smart kid. I'd be shocked if he can't learn how
    to setup and utilize screens properly.

    As for his erratic ballhandling, that might be a tougher nut to crack.
    I'm sure he can shore it up some and with a mechanics tweak or two.
    And the fact that his ridiculous range will force defenders to crowd
    him should allow him ample oppotunities to create space with a hard
    bounce or two. But I wonder if at leats a part of his dribbling issue
    results from having smaller than ideal hands. I may be imagining it,
    but having also seen him numerous times live and on TV, it looks
    like it's a bit of an issue (as I recall, Barkley, another guy with
    small hands (he couldn't palm the ball) had a dribbling style a
    bit similar to EJ's.

    P.S.- His downside isn't a 'bust'. He shoots the ball too well and
    will defend well enough to not be a washout. Worst case, he'll
    end up being a guy like a Pargo in N.O. who plays 15-18
    mins off the bench and when he's in a hot zone, can almost
    carry an offense for stretch of a few minutes.
    Last edited by Rajah Brown; 05-21-2008 at 09:57 PM.

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    If what thunderbird is seeing is the real Eric Gordan, I want in.

    Now, here are the teams I'll be looking at as the most likely to take him ahead of us on draft night (if they see him as thunderbird does):

    Seattle
    Memphis if they look to trade Mike Miller
    Clippers
    Bucks if they look to trade Michael Redd

    Of course, that doesn't mean the others won't take him, but I'd say those 4 are more likely.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Quote Originally Posted by Rajah Brown View Post
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    Flaw #2 is one shared by many, many kids his age with his natural
    athletic gifts. He's a smart kid. I'd be shocked if he can't learn how
    to setup and utilize screens properly.

    As for his erratic ballhandling, that might be a tougher nut to crack.
    I'm sure he can shore it up some and with a mechanics tweak or two.
    And the fact that his ridiculous range will force defenders to crowd
    him should allow him ample oppotunities to create space with a hard
    bounce or two. But I wonder if at leats a part of his dribbling issue
    results from having smaller than ideal hands. I may be imagining it,
    but having also seen him numerous times live and on TV, it looks
    like it's a bit of an issue (as I recall, Barkley, another guy with
    small hands (he couldn't palm the ball) had a dribbling style a
    bit similar to EJ's.

    The one thing you didn't mention is his release. It's more of a quasi-
    push shot than a jumper taken at the top of his elevation. At his
    size, he may need to adjust that a bit to clean shots vs some
    bigger SG's.

    All that said, I'd be very happy if he somehow slid to #11. Fat chance
    though.

    Good potential point about Gordon maybe having small hands. I hadn't noticed that about Eric, but I'll watch some more tape and ask around a bit in Bloomington and see if anyone else can confirm this. As far as his release on his jumper goes, I don't see that as a problem at all at the next level....plenty of guys have had success with less than perfect mechanics, and I don't really see the flaws in his shot that you do anyway. The small hands thing potentially is interesting here too, since I actually am of the opinion that bigger hands can HURT your shooting form, and that small hands in this particular specific skill can be good....within reason.

    I just read the latest mock on nbadraft.net.....it has the Pacers having Love, Augustin, Gordon, and Westbrook ALL available at #11 (these are the 4 players I've previewed so far), amazingly, it has the Pacers passing on all of them.
    Last edited by thunderbird1245; 05-21-2008 at 10:06 PM. Reason: wrong website quoted...sorry

  8. #8
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Quote Originally Posted by ABADays View Post
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    As always, I learn a lot from tbirds analysis. But boy, this could be the mother of all gambles for the Pacers. Because of the team and attendance issues the first round pick just cannot be a bust. That would be like the franchise standing on the drop door of the gallows. I'm not sure I could pull the trigger on that one.
    Really? I thought the opposite. I'm not as convinced as Shade that he'll be a big-time NBA player, but if he's there at #11 you can't NOT take him. The Indy public would crucify you. Even if he didn't play the first year, there'd be buzz just from EJ making the team.
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    I just read the latest mock on draftexpress.....it has the Pacers having Love, Augustin, Gordon, and Westbrook ALL available at #11 (these are the 4 players I've previewed so far), amazingly, it has the Pacers passing on all of them.
    Are you sure you're at DraftExpress?

    I see their mock as this:

    Beasley
    Rose
    Brook Lopez
    Bayless
    Love
    Mayo
    Gordon
    Gallinari
    Randolph
    Jordan
    Pacers taking Augustin

  10. #10

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Quote Originally Posted by Joker View Post
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    Are you sure you're at DraftExpress?

    I see their mock as this:

    Beasley
    Rose
    Brook Lopez
    Bayless
    Love
    Mayo
    Gordon
    Gallinari
    Randolph
    Jordan
    Pacers taking Augustin

    I typed the wrong website. I should have said nbadraft.net. I fixed it my original post. Sorry for the confusion.

    Tbird

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    Go Colts! Shade's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    I typed the wrong website. I should have said nbadraft.net. I fixed it my original post. Sorry for the confusion.

    Tbird
    To be fair, NBADraft.net is pretty much garbage until right around draft time.

    If all four of those players are there at #11, AND WE PASS ON THEM ALL, I will have an epic meltdown.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    TBird-

    Agreed the 'big' hands can hinder some guys ability to shoot
    it. Rondo, who has huge hands for his size, is a good example
    (Shaq, in whose hands the ball looks like a grapefruit, is another).

    But if guys like Dr. J and Mark Aguirre can overcome it, it can
    certainly be done.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    My analysis and experience tells me that Gordon has always had so many advantages athletically, that he hasn't learned the nuances of how to play yet to the most of his ability...By being such a superior athlete, Gordon has not had to learn the subtleties of how to get open, how to set people up before a screen comes, etc etc.
    Very impressive observation here, I think you nailed it, IMHO.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Quote Originally Posted by Blink View Post
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    Very impressive observation here, I think you nailed it, IMHO.
    If true, then the questions come. Is it that he HASN'T had to learn, or doesn't care to? That nobody has tried to teach him these things, or does he care to listen or not?

    I won't claim to know, but just throwing it out there. Anytime a kid has so many people praising him so early, you do have to wonder if their head got too big, way too early. At least I do a lot of the time.

    -- Steve --

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Quote Originally Posted by Pacersfan46 View Post
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    If true, then the questions come. Is it that he HASN'T had to learn, or doesn't care to? That nobody has tried to teach him these things, or does he care to listen or not?

    I won't claim to know, but just throwing it out there. Anytime a kid has so many people praising him so early, you do have to wonder if their head got too big, way too early. At least I do a lot of the time.

    -- Steve --
    Or the other possibility would be, like players I have had before, is that he just CAN'T learn the intricate details of coming off screens and setting up cuts, no matter how hard he has tried to.

    Steve's quote is very much on the mark, and it is why drafting Eric Gordon or players like him is as much art as it is science. No one can know the answers to Steve's questions for sure. That is why in my opinion that more investigation and study will go into to breaking down Eric Gordon by all the teams in the league than perhaps any other player.

    My somewhat educated guess is that Eric will improve his weaknesses at the next level, and that the flaws he has are due to lack of hard, detailed coaching, particularly because he has been so incredibly talented that it hasn't been necessary yet for him to improve those areas of his game. I certainly could be wrong however......only time will tell.

    Being able to improve your weaknesses at the pro level is a key ingredient for almost every playeer in every sport....some players games evolve and improve, others never get better once they start collecting paychecks and living the lavish lifestyle their salaries provide. Who knows which way any of these kids will end up going?

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    Member Swingman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Could Gordon be a good fit with Dunleavy?

    Gordon can guard the PG on defense and Dunleavy can get us into our offense. Probably not the perfect situation but MDJr might be a good complement to Gordon.

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Going with Pacer46 I wonder if Sampson has poisoned him forever. I am very leary
    of Gordon because of the IU mess and how he responded to it. I would really look elsewhere
    because the risk is too great. If they select him it better be after a lot of personality
    evaluation. Is he a team player or a me player?
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    I am a IU fan and I have mixed feelings about Gordon. All-Star aside is this guy capable in taking over games either offensively or defensively?

    With our needs I would prefer a defensive point who can penetrate, dish, and hit the open jumper (Westbrook? Augustine). Or a big man who can play defense and be apart of the system rather than having to take over in order to be "apart" of it (Love?).

    Or a SG who can take over a game when the well runs dry. A player who doesn't look like a deer in headlights when the pressure is on. The guy can be an All-star, but what I want is a player who plays for the sake of the team.(Mayo? Bayless? Gordon?)


    I don't see Gordon as the SG that will finish the game. Dunleavy is our guy now, but in three years I can only imagine his defense plateauing at best. If we draft this high I want a player that would start ahead of Dun in 3 years.

    Draft Love and trade to get Rush.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Good as always T-bird.

    I honestly wouldn't be mad if the Pacers jumped 5 spots to pick Gordon. I sort of disagree in the fact that he is a big risk player at the 5 spot. His range alone deserves a pick in the top 10 but I agree that his flaws are hindering his development as a player.

    The advantage for Bird to jump some spots to pick EJ is simple. He puts fans in the seats even if its just a year and he also buys himself some time to build a better team through next years draft.

    In short he has excuse why the Pacers suck another year in order to acquire more talent.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Quote Originally Posted by owl View Post
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    Going with Pacer46 I wonder if Sampson has poisoned him forever. I am very leary
    of Gordon because of the IU mess and how he responded to it. I would really look elsewhere
    because the risk is too great. If they select him it better be after a lot of personality
    evaluation. Is he a team player or a me player?
    WOW.... That seems like alot to assume from a 19 year old kid.

    Are you sure your not a Illinois fan.

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    I'd love to have Eric Gordon. He's a big time scorer in the backcourt and is an overall playmaker. That being said, I don't see him getting past Milwaukee. With them looking to move Redd, and with Sampson now in the fold, I can't see them passing on Gordon unless maybe Mayo falls too.

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    I have not been too high on Gordon, but I still think he would be a good pick at #11 for the time being. We could use something close to a real SG which he would be. However, I don't think he's the long term answer at SG for the Pacers. Generally, I think he's going to be a liability on defense because of his length and size.

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Gordon's ball handling got exponentially worse when his wrist got hurt. He completely lost his left hand for several weeks and had to go almost exclusively to his right. Eventually he started going to his left again but he still was not confident about his movement. He does dribble the ball high, but it didn't seem to be an issue til the injury, but he also wasn't playing top competition yet. I do think the point of Gordon possibly having small hands is a valid one.

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    Quote Originally Posted by Shade View Post
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    If all four of those players are there at #11, AND WE PASS ON THEM ALL, I will have an epic meltdown.
    That on itself is something to look forward too
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Eric Gordon

    I see Mayo as the only pick that could be a superstar outside the top two. I see Gordon as the only pick that could be a star outside the top 5. Trading up to get him makes a lot of sense. Getting him at 11 is coup.

    There is some risk with EJ but there is also great upside. If he can solidify that dribble penetration and surround him with the right PG and guys, I think he can be an all-star.

    Also, I know the Miller-Alford story but wouldn't you love seeing EJ in Indiana?

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