In the 3-point era of the NBA, only 9 guards have averaged 22 PPG at the age of 22. The list is comprised of Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, Isiah, Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, and Eric Gordon. Gordon’s company in the list makes it easy to see why Phoenix was willing to sign him to a 58 million dollar offer-sheet over 4 years. With this in mind, why wouldn't the Celtics jump at a trade to bring him to Boston?
The most glaring issue with Eric Gordon is health. He has played in just 107 of his teams’ last 230 games. To say that Gordon has been plagued by injuries is a gross understatement. His recent career has been defined by injuries. This presents the biggest risk in trading for Eric Gordon. Giving up pieces for a player who missed 53% of available games is extremely worrisome. Holding off on this concern though, assuming he’s healthy, would Eric Gordon be worth trading for?
To state the obvious, Eric Gordon is a very gifted scorer. He has a smooth jump shot with a quick release that leads to few of his shots being blocked. He good at catching and shooting off screens and very effective at scoring during transition. However, the majority of his offense comes through isolation and the pick and roll, where he is not quite as effective.
Gordon is a high volume shooter who dominates the ball. Using Hollinger’s ratings for Usage Rate, Gordon is one of 10 players to post a USG% greater than 27. Gordon himself ranks at #7 with a Usage rate of 27.8. Of these 10 players, Gordon ranks dead last in FG%, Turnover Ratio, and PER. He ranks ahead of only John Wall in TS% and EFG%. This gives a broad picture of inefficiency, so a more in depth look at his 2012-2013 shooting might be of use here.
His 2013 shot chart isn't terrible, especially if you enjoy the warm colors of subpar shooting.
Gordon takes about a third of his shots at the rim, making only 52%, which is very low for compared to his past seasons. The gaping wound that is the midrange area accounts for a little over 20% of his shots. For whatever reason, Gordon is steadily declining as a three-point shooter. He shot 39% in his rookie year and has fallen every year, landing at 32% in 2013. This isn't terrible, but it is a concern, especially considering he takes four of them per game (closer to 5 per 36 min.) The midrange disaster combined with the diminishing three point percentage is the biggest obstacle to overcome offensively.
To put it bluntly, scoring is all Eric Gordon can do. He doesn't produce many assists and needs to cut down on turnovers. Gordon is also a truly awful rebounder, even accounting for his position. He is undersized, but that isn't an excuse to post such mediocre rebounding totals. Defensively, he leaves a lot to be desired as well. Gordon has never played on a good defensive team, and it shows in his own statistics. The Hornets ranked 28th in Def Rtg this year. Gordon’s own Def Rtg falls below the bottom half for the team, which is a rough way to say it’s not very good. Using stats from Synergy Sports, his PPP allowed on defense is .91, which is about equal to James Harden or Ricky Rubio. Not exactly the comparisons you want being made about you defensively. While Gordon appears to be a bad defender on a bad defensive team, there is always a chance that playing in Doc’s system might turn that around. (Ignoring of course what the loss of Bradley and probably KG will do, which can't be overstated)
Some of this critique is unfair to Eric Gordon. He has only played for bad teams where he was required to be the number one scoring option. It is not a common, or easy thing for a player in this position to play efficiently. Also, given the lack of games he's played, there isn't a very large sample size to judge his last couple of years on. It is hard to predict what effect playing with Rondo could have on his game, or how the emergence of Jeff Green could affect his touches. However, judging Eric Gordon solely on the information available, he is too much of a liability to give up Bradley and Pierce for.