[From the diaries. Judging by yesterday, Gordon's quite the divisive topic. So lets do it again, heh. -Matt]
Given some of today's discussion, it seemed prudent to discuss Ben Gordon. Ben Gordon often seems to suffer from a lack of context. Gordon seems to inspire people to make lazy comparisons (Think Vinnie Johnson). Or inspire them to believe that every player in the NBA at least an inch taller than little Ben is automatically a better defender. Or people allow the falling down and turnovers with the shot clock running down to overwhelm everything else Gordon does on the court. And that's just the on the court stuff. One of the biggest reasons I pay attention to statistics is because statistics provide context. That way I hopefully end up saying less stupid stuff because I can place things in context.
So here's some context. Despite all of those incredibly frustrating turnovers in key situations this season, overall Gordon's turnovers are actually at a career low, down 3% from last season (That's 1 less TO per 36 min). At least one of my predictions proved accurate. After the horrible 1st month he shared with every other Bulls player, Gordon has shot 45% from the field, 45% from 3 point range, and averaged 22 points with only 2.1 TOs per 36 min. Since December he's played at least as well as he did last season on offense.
Interestingly, Gordon's performance at SG this year nearly exactly matches his performance there last season, posting the same 18.4 PER according to 82 games. It's his play in the point guard role that has been disappointing this year given the positive signs he showed last year in that role, dropping from a 31 PER last year to an 11 this year in that role. Most of that time came early in the year when Gordon was often the only offensive threat on the floor when he was playing PG, and simply couldn't carry the team or stay on his feet.
Gordon strangely has by far the worst adjusted plus/minus on the team at negative 8.7 pts, but he's far from alone in the NBA when it comes to strangely poor numbers. The sample size is still really small for adjust plus/minus. The team has played better offense with Gordon on the court, but the defense has been flat awful. Gordon's obviously not a great defender, but he's also not as bad as the numbers suggest. Part of the problem is that Gordon led the team in minutes the 1st month of the season and gets penalized the most for the team's extremely poor start. Gordon also finished 2nd on the team in adjusted plus minus last season so this isn't a consistent trend. When you look at counterpart PER, Hinrich, Gordon, and Duhon have all slipped defensively this year, the PER of opposing backcourts increased 4 points this year.
Gordon's not the perfect player, but he's basically tied with Joe Smith for the best offensive rating on the team at 107, while also using the most possessions. In short, he's still the best offensive player on the team and the guy you should want taking shots. If you feel the need to compare Gordon to somebody then a decent comparison for Gordon is Ray Allen. Here's the comparison through the end of last season and including this season. They're both great shooters that don't post up or get to the FT line much, and average defenders at best. Gordon isn't as good as Ray at coming off screens or scoring in the paint, but Gordon is better at creating off the dribble and has had to carry a larger % of the offense than Ray did at the same age. Ray was the slightly better player at the same age. Gordon's not perfect, but he's the only guy on this team that can carry a team offensively for a sustained period.