For the most part, opinions were split when Ben Gordon signed a five-year contract with the Detroit Pistons last summer reported to be worth $55 million.
On one hand, the 26-year-old BG was just coming off the best season of his pro career, which he capped by averaging 24.3 points and hitting a slew of clutch shots in a close playoff series loss to the defending champion Celtics. On the other hand, was it smart for the rebuilding Pistons to give All-Star type money to an undersized two-guard (with zero All-Star nods) who is widely regarded as a one-dimensional scorer?
With about a month to go in his first season in Detroit, the naysayers have — at least for now — been proven right.
As the Pistons have sputtered to a 22-42 record (10.5 games out of a playoff spot) going into tonight’s matchup with the Wizards, Gordon is averaging 13.7 points and shooting just 29 percent from three-point range. Both of those numbers are career-lows. Gordon has also missed 19 games due to ankle and groin injuries.
In today’s Detroit Free-Press, writer Vince Ellis talked to Gordon about his disappointing season:
Gordon admitted that he isn’t completely healthy. “But at this time of year everybody is having some trouble. It’s just a part of the NBA, pro sports in general,” he said.
He was asked why he was struggling, and he alluded to how his role has changed since the beginning of the season, when he was guaranteed at least 30 minutes per game — before Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince returned from extended injury absences.
“You can look at a bunch of different reasons,” Gordon said. “I missed a lot of games. I’ve never missed this many games in my career before. Obviously, the rotation is a lot different than it was. Those are two of the main things you can attribute it to.”
As for the remaining 18 games, Gordon didn’t offer answers on anything he could do better.
“I’m just trying to figure it out, man,” he said. “That’s all I can do.”
We’ve seen this before, where a guy struggles in the first year of a huge contract with a new team. Elton Brand and Baron Davis immediately come to mind. Matter of fact, we’re seeing it right now with Hedo Turkoglu in Toronto. Sometimes a player in that situation never regains his old form, and sometimes they get past the first-year hiccup. Since Gordon is young and doesn’t have an alarming history of injuries, I think he’ll bounce back.
Gordon isn’t going to be The Franchise in Detroit. That’s Rodney Stuckey‘s role. What Gordon can be is a key contributor on a good team, but more than likely it would be as a sixth man who is asked to provide scoring punch, like Andrew Toney in Philadelphia back in the day, Vinnie Johnson in Detroit, or more currently, Jamal Crawford in Atlanta. Detroit fans may not like that their team is paying $10 million-plus per year for a backup, but that appears to be where Gordon is most comfortable and productive. The season has been a write-off year in general for the entire franchise, so I wouldn’t sign BG’s career death certificate just yet.
Do you think Detroit made the right move signing Gordon last summer?
More Detroit Pistons stories:
– The NBA’s 10 Toughest Players
– Where does Chauncey Billups rank among all-time great point guards?
– Who’s Better: Aaron Brooks or Rodney Stuckey?