The precipitous decline of the Los Angeles Clippers has had a number of fantasy implications. The increasing disenchantment of Baron Davis, the acquisition and re-emergence of Zach Randolph, the regression of Chris Kaman and the vanishing act of Ricky Davis.
And while the values of Baron Davis, Randolph and Kaman have affacted countless fantasy owners, many others have found solace in the emergence of a solid fantasy asset in rookie Eric Gordon.
Everything has fallen into place nicely for Gordon, whom Basketball Monster had pegged 260th in its preseason nine-category rankings. Mainly this was because it was completely unknown how a rookie would fit into the team’s rotation.
Ricky Davis was ineffective before beingsidelined with an inf lammed tendon in his knee and has not played since November 22 – one day after the Clippers shipped out Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas in exchange for Randolph. All of a sudden, Mr. 260th was getting major minutes.
Since the trade Gordon has started 11 consecutive games and the results have been – as you would expect from a rookie – quite inconsistent. He had back-to-back 20-point performances in his first two starts but scored just 52 points in his next six combined.
Gordon has respondedwith three consecutive double-digit scoring efforts and erupted Tuesday night for 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including three 3-pointers and a pair of steals.
Clearly, it’s time to make an assessment of his prospects.
Gordon’s overall line as a starter is solid: 13.6 points, 1.8 3-pointers, 1.5 steals, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, .487 FG%, .758 FT%.
Certain things we all know about rookie guards hold true with Gordon. His shooting percentage will be streaky (.425 FG% this season) and he will not score consistently, so toss the idea of him being a potent source of points.
But what else can he contribute? Looking at his numbers and the praise of his coaches, it’s pretty clear Gordon is a good defensive player. He’s averaging 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks per 36 minutes this season – extremely strong numbers for a 6-foot-4 shooting guard.
Gordon is also burying 1.7 3-pointers per 36 minutes and his .362 mark from downtown shows he isn’t just a soulless chucker. In fact, although his overall FG% is low, he has taken 10 or more shots just five times this season, including three 20-point efforts.
That at least indicates even if he does not help you in FG%, he won’t be posting any 2-of-20 nights from the floor, either.
Therein lie Gordon’s strengths: 3-pointers, steals and a surprising number of blocks from the shooting guard position. His percentages a starter (see above) have been strong, but it’s too small of a sample size to come to any definitive conclusions.
The blocks may also be a product of small sample size but I am more optimistic there since his blocks have risen proportionately with his playing time.
The real question now becomes how long Gordon will stay this valuable. The answer lies in the return of Davis and Kaman, both of whom plan on getting back in the lineup later this month.
The Clippers have been playing awfully thin of late, getting just over 52 minutes from its bench on Tuesday. Even if Davis returns to full strength and plays at his past levels (and that’s a big if), it’s hard to see him supplanting Gordon in the starting lineup.
Gordon could perhaps take a hit in minutes, but his days of inconsistent playing time are over. He’ll be getting around 30 minutes per for the remainder of the season (Basketball Monster projects 31 per game).
Even with that kind of playing time, he’ll provide enough 3-pointers and steals and scoring potential to make him worth owning for the remainder of the season. Even now, I don’t consider him a must-start type of player, but he’s sitting on my bench in two leagues waiting for favorable matchups.
And one key to remember: with Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Ricky Davis and Kaman, the Clippers don’t exactly have the most unbreakable vets. Numerous injuries could plague this team all season long and Gordon will benefit the most.