Last season, D.J. Augustin led the Bobcats in points scored per 48min in the clutch. Considering Augustin’s struggles last season, it’s hardly a compliment, but more so evidence as to how poor the Bobcats season really was.
If there’s any close games for the Bobcats this season, Ben Gordon will primarily be involved in the finish. Not excited? Understandable. Gordon’s scoring ability never translated in Detroit. Plus, it’s always a hefty task for a player who might be coming off the bench this season to be relied on heavily in the clutch. However, Gordon has a history of being a big shotmaker.
For five seasons in Chicago, Ben Gordon was the main source of the Bulls offense. They relied on his shooting heavily on mediocre offensive teams, and were content living and dying by his jumpers. The result saw Gordon gain a reputation as a big shotmaker, even jokingly developing the moniker of “Air Gordon.”
An interesting nugget from a report in the Detroit Free Press says only seven NBA players have scored more points than Gordon in the fourth quarter and only nine have more points in the final two minutes of a game since 2004.
The biggest thing in acquiring Gordon was getting Detroit’s future unprotected first round pick. But there’s a big gain in dealing Corey Maggette, who brought nothing to the team last year, for Gordon who was actually productive despite misuse. In Charlotte, Gordon’s no longer being viewed as a bad contract, and there’s not pressure to live up to the remaining $25 million left on his deal, as there was in Detroit.
Gordon’s struggles in Detroit stemmed mostly from bad offensive use. He was used more so as a spotup shooter, and didn’t get as much opportunity to create for himself as he did in Chicago. But in Charlotte, Gordon should have no trouble seeing a lot more offensive focus, considering the youth and inexperience here.
For a team that lost a record 59 games last season, having a player like Gordon who can shoot you into games you have no business being in is a welcome addition. There weren’t many chances for last second shots last season, considering the amount of blowouts the team had. But think back to what Stephen Jackson and Jason Richardson did for this team in the past with their streak scoring and jumpshooting. Gordon brings the same impact and same competitive level. Mike Dunlap has described Gordon as an absolute “killer” when it comes to taking, and more importantly making big shots.
The Bobcats offense is going to be a huge work in progress going forward, but it helps having a closer like Gordon who can bail you out for a couple of years. Having a player like that isn’t just an individual benefit, but a team benefit. If this young team is going to get any experience closing games and executing in the clutch, it will start with Gordon and a hopeful resurgence to his best years in Chicago.