BEN LOOKING FOR THIS
Two days before the 2012 NBA Draft, the Bobcats made their first splash of the offseason, acquiring guard Ben Gordon and a future first-round draft pick from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for forward Corey Maggette on June 26, 2012.
“With this trade, we have acquired two things we covet in our plan to build this team,” President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins said. “By acquiring a young and proven talent in Ben Gordon and a future first-round draft pick, we have both addressed our need for three-point shooting and acquired an additional asset to help continue to improve our team in the future.”
And although Gordon admitted it was somewhat of a shock to be traded for the first time entering his ninth year in the NBA, it’s an opportunity he’s ready and willing to take on. That much was evident three days later on June 29 when Gordon made a trip to Charlotte the day after the Cats selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor with the No. 2 and 31 overall picks respectively in the 2012 NBA Draft. Gordon spent most of the morning with MKG and Taylor, getting to know his new teammates and the Bobcats staff and acknowledged he can’t wait to get started.
“There’s a lot of great talent here – young talent,” said Gordon. “I’m looking forward to coming in and having a good, positive impact on those guys and making the best of this opportunity.”
Gordon’s addition to the Bobcats gives them two Huskies with National Championship rings in their backcourt. Gordon led UConn to the title with former Bobcat Emeka Okafor in 2004, while second-year guard Kemba Walker took it all with the Huskies in 2011. The chance for the two of them to play together is something Gordon seems to be relishing in.
“You have a guy like Kemba – another New York guy – and I’m very familiar with his game,” Gordon said of Walker. “We went to the same alma matter, so I’m looking forward to coming in and working with him right away to try and make him a better player. I’m going to share some of the experiences I’ve had in my eight-year career with him, and I’m sure that he’s a willing working and willing listener who will pick everything up real quick.”
RETURN TO FORM
Gordon’s three seasons in Detroit wrapped up with the second-lowest scoring average of his career in 2011-12 (12.5 points), behind his career-low 11.2 points in 2010-11. The Bobcats are hoping Gordon can return to the form he had in Chicago from 2004-09 when he averaged 24.7 points.
The Cats will give him plenty of opportunities to be the impact scorer he’d grown accustomed to in Chicago. Charlotte shot an NBA-worst 29.5 percent from 3-point range in 2011-12 with no player shooting better than 36 percent (Maggette) and only rookie Kemba Walker taking more than 200 treys, connecting on 30.5 percent of them. Needless to say they’re looking for someone to light things up from long range.
Gordon nearly shot a career-best from beyond the arc in 2011-12, connecting on 42.9 percent (63 of 147) of his treys. His only better year from long range came in 2005-06 when he made 43.5 percent (166 of 382) of his 3-pointers with the Bulls. However, his 147 attempts from long range in 2010-11 were the fewest he had in his career, well behind his 234 attempts in 2009-10 with Detroit and 224 behind the 371 he averaged in five years in Chicago. Expect to see those numbers skyrocket again in new Head Coach Mike Dunlap’s system.
“There are going to be a lot more opportunities here for me to play the type of game I like to play and be as efficient as I want to be,” Gordon told me on his first visit to Charlotte. “I’m looking forward to the new start. There’s a lot of work here to be done, but I’m ready to go to war with these guys and do whatever I can.”
While his touch from outside will be a welcome addition for the Cats in 2012-13, Gordon isn’t just a shooter or a scorer – he can also create opportunities for his teammates from the two-guard spot and can fill in at the point if necessary. He’s also averaging 2.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds in eight seasons in the league.
An 85.9 career free-throw percentage shooter, Gordon is money at the line and instantly becomes the Bobcats best option at the charity stripe with D.J. Augustin and Corey Maggette no longer in Bobcats blue.
Gordon still has something left in the tank. Despite turning 29 on April 4, he played 40-or-more minutes on four occasions, capped by a season-high, 45-point performance in 41 minutes during a 116-115 loss in Denver on March 21.