The Houston Rockets are only two days away in their Florida training camp leading to the NBA restarting, and superstar guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook are not yet with the team.
As such, there are not too many important takeaways that can be deciphered regarding the team’s level of play. But after Sunday’s second day of free practice, head coach Mike D’Antoni said there was a first success – and it’s the return to health of guard Eric Gordon.
“He hasn’t lost a representative,” said D’Antoni of his team’s best bench player, speaking in a Zoom session with reporters. “He’s fine, he’s shooting the ball very well. If you have had to evaluate everyone, this is a great advantage for us. It is ready to go. “
At 31, Gordon’s output declined in 2019-2020 from his first three seasons in Houston, largely due to an annoying right knee injury that forced him to undergo surgery in November. Although he returned in late December, Gordon claims he is still not in great shape.
On Sunday, Gordon said that those worries are no longer a problem after using extended leisure time due to the NBA COVID-19 break to rest his knee. “I couldn’t wait to do it,” he said. “I wanted to be healthy in order to be myself. For me, just being able to focus on basketball and what we do instead of rehabilitating before training. This means a lot. “
Gordon have lost 30 of Houston’s 64 games this season because of an injury. When playing, Gordon is the Rockets’ third top scorer (40-24), averaging 14.5 points in 28.6 minutes per game.
Although limited by injury, however, Gordon’s shooting rates dropped from 40.9% overall and from 36.0% on 3 pointers in the 2018-19 campaign to 37.0% and 31.9%, respectively, in this season.
After only two trainings, Gordon says he can already tell a difference in the conditions of his knee, compared to before the break of the season.
“For sure, no questions,” Gordon said when asked by reporters after Sunday night rehearsals. “There is no second thought on my knee. It’s about what I can do on the pitch. … I’m in a good position now where I don’t have to worry about rehab. “
Both D’Antoni and GM GM Daryl Morey of Houston said throughout the NBA’s suspension that Gordon’s health was a key variable related to the team’s championship ambitions this year. It is still very early in the training camp, but the initial returns look promising.