Last Night, I Had A Dream That Ben Gordon Was The Backup Point Guard:by Quenton Albertie
I’m not a prophet or an oracle but when I woke up this morning, the last image I could remember was of Ben Gordon using a pick to find the open area in the midrange and bury a shot. As a diehard Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I would be ecstatic if the Cavs were to sign Gordon.
Gordon, who used to be one of my favorite players in the NBA, along with LeBron James, Danilo Gallinari, Rip Hamilton, Brandon Roy and Michael Redd, hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2014-2015 season and as I followed his career, it seemed as if the train had fallen off the tracks when he signed with the Charlotte Hornets.
Gordon went from averaging 12.5 points, 2.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game on 44.2 percent shooting from the field and 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range in 26.9 minutes per game with the Pistons in his final season to averaging 11.2 points per game the next season on 40.8 percent shooting from the field in 20.8 minutes per game in his first season with the Hornets.
The next two seasons, one with the Hornets and the next with the Orlando Magic, Gordon averaged 5.7 points per game in 14.4 minutes per game.
In the three seasons he played after leaving the Pistons, Gordon constantly clashed with coaches due to a lack of playing time. Gordon, who averaged more than 20 points per game in his last three out of four playoff appearances, was understandably confused.
See, Gordon is a player who was misunderstood back then. He was a combo guard that was more fixated on scoring but not just scoring, shooting. Not just shooting from anywhere, shooting from three-point range.
It seems like it wasn’t en vogue to let your guard control the scoring from the perimeter or for every player to be able to shoot threes until the Golden State Warriors’ innovative Death Lineup made the league realize they needed to step up their scoring potential. Now, teams all over the league wants guards who play exactly like Gordon used to play like.
How Gordon still plays, if given another chance.
When talking about the team’s he believes who would fit on, the Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the team’s that Gordon named right off-bat.
“I’m looking at teams that need [a playmaker] like the Cavs,” Gordon told dleague.nba.com. “They need somebody [who] can create their own offense or make a play for someone else.”
Now, Gordon’s prime came years ago and it does fans an injustice to talk about what he could do then rather than what he could do now.
Gordon, who currently plays for the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League is averaging 16.6 points and 4.0 assists per game while shooting 45.4 percent from the floor, 40.4 percent from three-point range and 93.3 percent from the free-throw line in eight games for the Legends this season.
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, the 11-year NBA veteran can still play both guard positions. That will matter on both the offensive and defensive end.
Offensively, Gordon’s playing style will make him useful both off-the-ball as a catch-and-shoot option and on-ball as the Cavs primary facilitator within the second unit. Defensively, Gordon shouldn’t be expected to keep up with the young, fresh, quick and explosive legs of some of the NBA’s point guards but with his size, he should be able to match up against the opposing shooting guards.
Again, Gordon’s not the quickest player on the court but may be the most savvy player on the court at all times, as he has no trouble getting where he needs to go on the court on the offense end.
He knows how to use his speeds, screens and a variety of shots to get the bucket. With his sweet shooting stroke, Gordon is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. Gordon’s ball-handling also helps him get around the court, while his high-step on his first-step gives him the necessary acceleration to blow past the occasional defender. As a floor general, Gordon’s experience and intelligence is always on display off-the-dribble, as he finds the open man or the open spot just about every time down the court.
Those are all things that Gordon can do now, against any level of competition. He shouldn’t be expected to be playing 30.3 minutes per game or shooting 13.5 times per game but that he can is a promising sign for a player who hasn’t played in the last two seasons. It means that Gordon is back in game shape, or close to it.
His efficiency shows that his natural ability (to score) may never be lost. After all, Dominique Wilkins could still dunk at 50 years old, so there’s no reason to expect Gordon to suddenly stop being able to shoot.
Within the Cavs second unit, Gordon should be allowed to be a playmaker and while he may only end up averaging less than ten points per game, those points will be meaningful. More important than the per game averages is Gordon’s on-court play. On the hardwood, Gordon should be expected to perform a few feats of wizardry that have fans wondering how he made that shot or if he really got that shot off. With Kevin Love’s recent injury, it would be smart for the Cavs to think about preserving LeBron James and Kyrie Irving’s bodies for the playoffs.
The recently signed Derrick Williams can help James rest as soon as a point guard, who will naturally help Irving rest, is acquired.
Who better than a fully healthy combo guard who has 11 years of NBA experience, has performed incredibly in the playoffs, played for two of the top organizations in the NBA, shoots 40.1 percent from three-point range for his NBA career and is able to be a playmaker who creates shots for both himself and others?
The Cavs have an open roster spot after trading Chris Andersen to the Charlotte Hornets. The deadline for free agents to join a playoff-eligible team and play in the playoffs is March 1st. The trade deadline is February 23rd. If Gordon signs with the team, it will be between those two dates but the competition is heavy as the Cleveland Cavaliers are interested in a number of point guards.