I started to write a piece in November about how Eric Gordon (and his contract) were going to stop Anthony Davis from playing playoff basketball this season and next. For whatever reason I didn't finish it and three months on, I'm kind of glad I didn't.
To sum it up, I suggested the shooting guard's lack of productivity and the $30 million in cap space he was eating up over this season and next (Gordon has a $15 million player option next season, which he is absolutely not declining) was the principal reason Davis and the Pelicans weren't infiltrating the west's top eight any time soon.
At the time that accusation seemed perfectly reasonable. The, now, 26-year-old was showing no signs of life on the court, offering little, if anything, to a young New Orleans team that need every bit of help they can get to play postseason basketball in the stacked western conference - Even with the future of the NBA, Davis.
It was virtually impossible to comprehend any team (even the Knicks) being willing to take on the former Indiana college star's massive contract (Which Grantland's Bill Simmons called the worst in the NBA), so it seemed New Orleans were stuck with him.
I felt Gordon's $15 million a season, spent (hypothetically) on two or three different players, might be enough to make Davis and the Pelicans a playoff team. That might still be the best option but, as I've already mentioned, more than likely isn't going to happen.
Another way that the Pelicans may be able to extend their season beyond 82 games is to partner a player, only a few years ago dubbed the next best shooting guard in basketball, with a player who is destined to become the very best player in basketball.
I've already mentioned the latter, Davis. I've also already mentioned the former, Gordon.
Before the infamous Chris Paul to the Clippers trade in 2011 (which sent Gordon to New Orleans), the 6'4" two-guard was quickly building a reputation for himself as one of the league's elite players in that position. In his final season in LA, he averaged 22.3 points per game (Which has diminished in each season since).
Upturn in Form
Since the turn of the year though, there have been signs of life. Gordon has started to look like the player we saw at the Clippers and the Pelicans have looked a better team for it. Despite currently being without injured point guard Jrue Holiday, they are currently just two games behind the 8th seed Phoenix Suns & look set to push them and Oklahoma City Thunder all the way in the battle for the precious 8th and final playoff spot.
Instead of being the reason the Pelicans miss the playoffs, perhaps the rejuvenated Gordon will be the reason the Pelicans make the playoffs. Only time will tell but for now, it's great to have such an exciting basketballer, playing exciting basketball again.