Gordon Won't Be Tearing Down Any NBA Nets

Matt GardSenior Analyst IMay 1, 2008

            I can’t help but smile when I think about some of the National Basketball Association’s elite names- names like Michael Olowakandi, Mateen Cleaves, Kwame Brown and Jonathan Bender.

            I’m sorry. Did I say elite names? My bad. What I meant was recent “NBA Draft busts,” players who were supposed to make an impact in the Association and have now blended into the crowd.

            Sorry Indiana basketball fans. Don’t invest in that NBA Eric Gordon jersey just yet, for “E.J.” as his teammates call him, is sure to be the NBA’s next bust.

            Fans attending Indiana basketball’s senior night game against Minnesota on March 5, with the help of then-interim coach Dan Dakich, chanted “One more year!” to Gordon following a speech by IU senior and fellow NBA Draft hopeful, D.J. White.

            Gordon, much to the dismay of the Hoosier faithful, decided not to oblige Assembly Hall’s chants.

            “I will be entering my name in June for the 2008 NBA Draft, and I am doing this to compete at the highest level, not for the fame or the money,” Gordon said at a press conference not long after IU’s 86-72 loss to Arkansas in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

            Bad choice, E.J.

            Gordon isn’t ready for the NBA. He showed fans and scouts why nearly every time he stepped on the court during the second half of the season.

Sure, he was a force in the first half. He scored his season-high 33 points in IU’s first game against UT-Chattanooga including hitting nine of 15 from the field and seven of 11 from behind the arc. Hoosier fans were instantly in love.

The rest of the first half of the season wasn’t bad either. Gordon averaged 23.3 points per game before New Year’s Day. Then when the ball dropped on 2008, something dropped on Gordon- the Big Ten Conference.

The Big Ten was by no means a great conference in 2008, but even the bottom of the Big Ten barrel was able to keep Gordon at bay. Throughout the second half of the season, Gordon struggled. Visibly frustrated and less productive, he began to decline.

Things got worse after Kelvin Sampson’s firing as the Hoosiers hobbled to a 3-4 mark after his dismissal. Gordon’s performance suffered even more at this point. He couldn’t drive. He couldn’t shoot from the field. Forty-four percent of his points in the last seven contests came from Gordon’s ability to draw fouls.

More over, Gordon couldn’t motivate his demoralized teammates to group together and overcome the adversity of Sampson’s firing. But why would that be expected of him? He wasn’t a captain. He was just a freshman.

Exactly. Gordon was a freshman and he acted the part. He wasn’t mature enough. And now he is regarded as one of the top prospects in the NBA draft?

It doesn’t make sense to me. If Gordon had trouble competing against the Big Ten, then how will he compete at “the highest level” like he wants to? And if he couldn’t be a leader and motivate an IU team that at the beginning of the season had Big Ten and National Championship aspirations, then how is he supposed to help a struggling NBA team like the Miami Heat or the New York Knicks?

Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose will tear Gordon apart in the Rookie of the Year voting and by this time next year, the team that drafted Gordon will be wondering whether or not he need another year to develop.

But worst of all, Gordon, Rose and Beasley probably won’t see a ring next year. Tyler Hansbrough, who chose to stay for his senior season at North Carolina, on the other hand, will probably be tearing down a net and smiling his way to the 2009 NBA Draft.