By Dennis J. Freeman
Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon is one of the young bright stars in the NBA. Just in his third season in the league, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Gordon is thriving as the playmaker shooting guard for a team that is struggling to find its wheels.
Despite the fact that the Clippers’ won-loss record has the team languishing in the bottom of the Pacific Division, Gordon is fast earning the praise of peers and making a name for himself as a premier shooting guard in the NBA.
Gordon, along with Blake Griffin, the Clippers other young stud, are transforming the way the team play ball. They’re tough. They’re rugged. They get up and down court and can play toe-to-toe with the best teams in the league. The Clippers put the brakes on the San Antonio Spurs with a recent win at Staples Centers and nearly upset the two-time defending NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite their record, the rejuvenation of the Clippers has been largely due to the high energy play of Gordon and Griffin. Gordon’s level of play, already rising in stock after his first two seasons in the league, has soared.
After averaging just over 16 points a game his rookie season and nearly 17 points per contest last season, Gordon scoring has shot upward. This season, Gordon is scoring 24.1 points a game. For good measure, Gordon is also adding 4.6 assists a game as well.
Gordon said the growth in his game this season is more or less due to wanting to become better.
“I just wanted to be more of a better playmaker,” Gordon said in an interview with news4usonline.com. “[I’m] trying to be a go-to guy throughout the whole game, especially at the end of games…and have a good defensive presence. Playing on the USA team gave me a lot more confidence and it brings your game up another level…you just play better against competition.”
The 21-year-old Gordon has always been up to the challenge of squaring off against competitors. He was Mr. Basketball in Indiana before going off to college to Indiana University where he led the Big Ten in scoring (20.9 ppg) as a freshman. The Clippers liked what they saw in Gordon and chose him as the seventh pick in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft.
For the Clippers, selecting Gordon as its top draft pick a year before they made Griffin their top choice, is proving to be a building block for the future. Gordon has made that pick look like a bargain. Last season, Gordon scored 30 points just once in a game. He’s already reached the 30-point marker three times, including a season-high 32 points in a game against Phoenix.
Clipper coach Vinny Del Negro likes what he sees in Gordon.
“He’s young, explosive, strong, and a great kid,” said Del Negro. “He’s done a great job for us this year to date and I expect him to continue to improve. He has the ability to be a lockdown defender when he focuses on that end of the court. He and Blake will continue to take more leadership in the team as the season progresses.”
One thing Gordon has picked up during his tenure in the professional ranks is how to work hard- a trait he attributes to the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and Denver point guard Chauncey Billups. Gordon worked out with the two veteran players as a rookie. Receiving words of encouragement from the two and seeing how they worked out during the offseason, proved to be invaluable to Gordon.
“Those are the guys I look at and watch what they do,” Gordon said. “When I was a rookie, they just told me to play hard every game, every possession. If you want to be good that’s the only way you can do it-playing hard on every possession.”