LA Clippers in review: Eric Gordon cracks the rotation in his return to LA

Eric Gordon, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Gordon, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

In 2008, the LA Clippers drafted an 18-year-old Eric Gordon with the seventh pick in the NBA draft. Fast forward 15 long years, Eric Gordon — gift-wrapped in slightly more toned muscles, donning more wrinkles and boasting decades-long experience — is back to where it all started.

The 34-year-old veteran guard made his return to the Clippers via a three-team trade with the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets. The Clippers shipped off Luke Kennard to Memphis and John Wall and a pick swap to Houston for Eric Gordon and three second-round picks.

Years past his prime, Gordon didn’t quite light it up the same way he once used to in LA — the sharp-shooting, broad-shouldered guard averaged 22.3 points for the 2010-11 Clippers, for instance. But that’s not what the Clippers expected of him, nor was it why they brought him here.

The acquisition of Gordon was seemingly another desperate, near-hurried (maybe unnecessary?) step to adding to the depth of a win-now team: not only does he provide 15 years of NBA experience, but he could still knock down shots and improve the spacing.

Was he worth giving up the pick swap that would become Cam Whitmore and Luke Kennard, who would finish the season as the NBA’s most efficient three-point scorer? Hard to say.

But did he impact the Clippers’ winning? To an extent; at least for one game.

Eric Gordon’s shooting was huge for the LA Clippers

In game one of the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, Eric Gordon came out firing on all cylinders: LA’s starting shooting guard knocked down five of his six field goal attempts en route to 12 first-quarter points.

His early scoring show propelled the Clippers to a 30-18 lead and eventually an upset win against the star-stacked Phoenix Suns. Gordon finished the contest with 19 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, second behind Kawhi Leonard’s 38 points.

Unfortunately, the Indianapolis, Ind. native didn’t have quite the same impact in ensuing games.  Aside from a few open looks from long-range, the veteran guard struggled to find the bottom of the net throughout the series. In five playoff games, he finished with acceptable averages of 10.2 points on not-so-acceptable shooting percentages (41 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from deep).

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Sure, his shooting and offensive production have been inconsistent throughout the series. Sure, the Clippers did give up a lot of young talent for an aging 34-year-old. But Gordon showed that he still has some gas left in his tank. And having a veteran shooter who can complement the Clippers’ megastars might not be the worst of ideas — especially if it entails a long-awaited homecoming.