Eric Gordon makes his debut

December, 31, 2012

After one game, the fantasy hoops world is back to where it started with Eric Gordon: We're all wowed by the possibilities, though quite a few of us are again braced for his next injury.

Gordon (knee) made his season debut Dec. 29, finishing with 24 points and seven assists in 25 minutes against the Charlotte Bobcats. While you definitely should consider the competition, this showing offered a number of positives. First, Gordon comfortably maxed out the minutes limit (mid-20s) that the New Orleans Hornets have him on for now. Further, Gordon was aggressive, getting to the line 14 times (making 12 free throws) and being a factor defensively (two steals). I'll take that as an indication that Gordon feels his knee is sound, though we'll see how he responds when the Hornets go back-to-back against the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Finally, Ryan Anderson owners can smile, because the presence of Gordon should enhance the value of their guy. After averaging just 11.4 points on 31.7 percent shooting (20 of 63) over his previous five games, Anderson said he had more open looks with Gordon on the floor. (Though Ryan, too, should perhaps consider the competition.)

Coming off this performance, Gordon is now rostered in virtually all leagues. However, in retrospect, it's interesting to see how leery fantasy owners have become of Gordon, whom many viewed as a top-20 fantasy talent heading into last season. Last weekend, when it was known that his return was imminent, Gordon was rostered in only about 75 percent of leagues. By comparison, Andrew Bynum and Derrick Rose -- two stars who aren't particularly close to playing again -- occupied about 60 percent of rosters seven days ago.

As fantasy owners and NBA fans, we'll always wonder about Gordon's durability. But on a Hornets team that features the No. 1 pick in Anthony Davis, the league's most prolific 3-point scorer in Anderson and some improving talent in Greivis Vasquez and Robin Lopez, a healthy Gordon could do some nice things. Best case, he becomes to the Hornets what James Harden is to the Rockets. You'd take even 80 percent of Harden's numbers for Gordon, yes?

As far as the worst-case scenario? I don't really need to go into that, do I? As I said, we're back to where we started with Gordon. Let's hope it lasts this time.

Looking Back

• With Aaron Brooks (ankle) out, Isaiah Thomas (27 points, 10 of 15 FG) blistered the Boston Celtics. In leagues of at least 12 teams, you pretty much have to buy this. Even in a 10-teamer, I'd take Thomas to replace any roster dead weight. Thomas should remain the Sacramento Kings' starting point guard going forward. We can only hope Kings coach Keith Smart agrees.

• Speaking of the Kings, Marcus Thornton had to be carried off the court Sunday after a nasty ankle sprain. I don't have any details, but reserving him in a weekly lineup league seems prudent. Same goes for Tyreke Evans (knee), who missed his seventh straight game.

Rajon Rondo (hip/thigh) played against the Kings after sitting out the previous night. Though he was just 1 of 6 from the field for a season-low two points, Rondo did contribute 10 assists and five boards.

Looking Ahead

Josh Smith (hip) is traveling with the Hawks, but he's questionable for Monday against the Rockets. Smith missed the team's win over the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 29.

Luol Deng (ankle) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (cornea) are both expected to play when the Bobcats visit the Chicago Bulls. MKG scratched his eye while diving for a loose ball in that Hornets game.

Jameer Nelson (hip) didn't practice with the Orlando Magic on Sunday, making him very questionable to go against the Miami Heat. Though the injury-depleted Magic are struggling, fantasy owners in leagues of at least 12 teams should take note of both the return of Hedo Turkoglu (hand) and the return of rookie Andrew Nicholson to the starting lineup. Nicholson produced 22 points in 26 minutes against the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 29. Both players are available in nearly all leagues.

• As a follow-up to this week's NBA Fantasy Forecaster, C.J. Miles could be a useful add in deeper leagues for the week ahead. Miles just dropped 33 points and eight triples on the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 29, and this week the Cleveland Cavaliers face the Kings, Rockets and Bobcats. Charlotte and Houston are 1-2 in 3-pointers allowed.



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