Photo by Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel
Frankel’s 2014-15 per 36 projections
It wasn’t long ago that Ben Gordon was one of the NBA’s elite sixth men. But now, at age 31, he’s looking for one more chance to keep his professional basketball career going. And that’s an opportunity the Orlando Magic have given him.
Since signing a five-year deal with the Detroit Pistons worth $55 million back in 2009, Gordon’s career has been on a downwards spiral. In three seasons in the Motor City, Gordon averaged what were then career-lows across the board. He failed to shoot over 40 percent from beyond the arc for the first time in his career in 2009-10, and never lived up to the scoring reputation that earned him such a lucrative deal.
In the third year of his contract, Gordon was traded to the Charlotte Bobcats as, essentially, a shoo-in. Instead of being viewed as a key addition to the Bobcats’ bench (for a team that won just 21 games that year), matters only got worse for Gordon there, culminating in a dismal outing in his contract year, where he dealt with a number of injuries and averaged only 5.2 points on 27.6 percent shooting from 3-point range in 19 games. With the playoffs just around the corner, the team waived Gordon at the buyout deadline, thereby casting a heavy cloud over his future in the NBA.
Now, though, 11 years after being drafted into the NBA, Gordon has one final chance to keep his career going.
With the additions the Magic made this offseason, they were in desperate need of players who could space the floor, which is where Gordon fits into the picture. In his first five seasons in the league, Gordon made, on average, 1.9 3-pointers per game at a 41.5 percent clip with the Chicago Bulls. Although he failed to showcase his shooting ability last season with the Bobcats, the Magic are hoping it’s simply an anomaly. They’re also hoping that putting him alongside the two cornerstones of the team’s backcourt, Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, who thrive off of breaking a defense down and getting into the paint, should give Gordon the looks he grew accustomed to at the early stages of his career. (That’s where the rejuvenation part comes into play.)
All in all, the pressure is on Gordon. His career has fallen off the deep end recently, and he’s been given one more shot at finding his feet in Orlando.
For the Magic, it’s a low-risk, high-reward signing, seeing as the second year on his contract is a team option. If he fails to deliver, they’ll show him the door before the extra $4.5 million kicks in. But if he regains his old form in any sort of way, he could be a nice spark plug off the bench for the Magic. More importantly, he could make life easier for Oladipo, Payton, and Aaron Gordon, all of whom are slowly developing an outside jumpshot. With Gordon’s floor spacing by their side, life could be much easier for all of them.