Knees, ankles, wrists. Pick a joint and it seems Eric Gordon has had to rehab it at some point in his basketball career. The local legend with the sweet and easy jump shot has struggled to stay on the court since making it to the NBA. After a tumultuous trade to the rebuilding New Orleans Hornets, EJ has struggled to find his NBA stride.
But alas, the Hornets are starting anew as the Pelicans, with an upgraded roster full of promising talent, and now Eric Gordon is in a much better place, finally healthy enough to get pumped up for the season opener with his team, as Jimmy Smith reports from New Orleans.
"I'm definitely in a better place because now I feel more comfortable," Gordon said. "I had a pretty good preseason where whatever minutes I was out there, I really showed that I was productive. I needed that. It's going to build a lot of confidence along the way."
Never mind the physical burden of injuries. When a proud player is debilitated, it extracts a mental toll as well.
Gordon is free of that encumbrance for the first time since his rookie season with the Clippers in 2008-09.
"The past few years I've been thinking about injuries and re-habbing and seeing what I can get through during the game," Gordon said. "Now I don't have to worry about that and I can really just focus on what we need to do.
"Since I've been here it's been a little tough along the way. I feel good now . . . . It's just been great. I look forward to having a great year."
Last season, Gordon played the last half of the season and averaged 17 points per game, but also wasn't considered 100%, missing occasional games while trying to remain in the mix in New Orleans.
Now that Gordon is healthy, he will have to share the minutes load since the Pelican bolstered their roster with talent that should help Gordon's game blossom once again. Gordon may or may not start initially as he continues building up his stamina, but with Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Austin Rivers also available, EJ can work his way back into full-time playing shape while still making the 'Cans a tough matchup.
No doubt, if he can stay healthy, the cream will rise to the top and EJ will be starting soon and become the top scoring threat in New Orleans. That's just what he does and has done ever since he popped on the public radar as a sophomore at North Central high school.
I always recall watching him in high school and thinking the court just wasn't big enough for his game. He was forced to play in about third gear, like driving a Ferrari down Meridian Street. I couldn't wait until he was able to unleash all of his talent at the NBA level. Unfortunately, his body hasn't been up to the task, yet. Hopefully, this season Gordon can turn the corner with a more mature game (he's still only 24) and let that talent flourish on the big stage.