Fact or Fiction: Ben Gordon is inconsistent.

Another common complaint about Ben Gordon is that he's too inconsistent.   There are wild fluctuations in his games where he's puts up few points or shoots a terrible percentage and takes the Bulls out of the game.   To look into this, I've compared Ben Gordon to the other top shooting guards in the league in terms of consistency.
There are probably a number of ways to view consistency, but I decided to view consistency as the ability to play above a particular floor.   In this case, I choose a floor of 75% of the player's typical points per game average and a TS% over 50% as two markers.   The first marker shows whether or not the player scored the points expected or came close, the second mark shows whether he scored them at an efficient rate or not.

The first table compares players to how frequently they came close to providing a normal amount of points.   Surprisingly, Ben Gordon actually is one of the most consistent players of high level shooting guards in hitting close to his average points.

The next table is where Ben Gordon gets into trouble.   This is where efficiency is looked at.

Name GP > 75% of Avg Pts
Brandon Roy 82.00%
Dwyane Wade 81.00%
Ben Gordon 79.20%
Andre Iguodala 78.00%
Kobe Bryant 77.00%
Joe Johnson 74.70%
Kevin Martin 74.50%
Rip Hamilton 73.10%
Vince Carter 71.20%
Stephen Jackson 71.10%
John Salmons 71.00%
Ray Allen 70.90%
Average 72.36%
...
Name GP > 50% TS%
Kevin Martin 74.50%
Brandon Roy 74.30%
Dwyane Wade 73.40%
Andre Iguodala 73.10%
John Salmons 72.10%
Kobe Bryant 72.00%
Ray Allen 70.90%
Ben Gordon 65.90%
Stephen Jackson 62.70%
Joe Johnson 60.80%
Rip Hamilton 55.20%
Vince Carter 55.00%
Average 72.90%

Gordon's efficiency tracking is sub par as he may score consistently, but still puts up his numbers on poor overall efficiency in slightly over one third of his games.   Giving him 7% more inefficient games than the other shooting guards on the list.

Granted half the players ahead of him are considered vastly superior, but the table does show that while Gordon's overall TS% is good, his efficiency varies significantly from game to game with his solid three point shooting games propping up his overall average considerably.

Combining these results seems like a mixed bag at first.   He shows total point consistency but not efficiency consistency, some good and some bad.   However, giving it about five minutes to think it over, and the results are a little more damning than they'd appear.  

The fact that Gordon's scoring consistency is among the highest while his efficiency consistency is in the lower tier is worse than if they were both lower.   It shows he applies no filter to when he has his shot going, or it shows the coaching staff wants him to continue shooting no matter what.

Either way, the results are almost certainly the genesis of people complaining that  "Gordon goes one on one too much" or "Ben Gordon is selfish" even when his shots per game, isolation usage, isolation effectiveness, and overall offensive efficiency are all within the norms of good players at his position.

Thus, I would consider the complaints about Ben Gordon being inconsistent grounded in fact, but perhaps exaggerated.   He's still more consistent then several elite guards, and he's compared across only top end shot creating SGs.  On this list only John Salmons signed an extension for less than the 9 million per year Gordon was ready to accept last season.   The majority of them are near max / max players.

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  • This is something Rose is going to have to get control over. Not only should he, as a leader, make sure he's vocal to BG about passing up shots he's not hitting, but make sure BG isn't getting the ball in those situations if he refuses.

    Of course, VDN shouldn't have BG on the floor in those situations, since it's not like he really has any other positive effects on the game besides his scoring. If BG isn't hitting his shots, we either need someone who will, or someone who can defend/rebound in his place. That's why we need a Raja Bell or Terrence Miller. Or even better, someone who can do both, in which case, bye bye BG (unless he's willing to be that killer 6th man)

  • That's Terrence Williams, of course. I must have had Brad Miller on my brain.

  • True, but then, I think Rose was shooting far too much last year to begin with. He shouldn't be creating for himself, he should be creating for others and shooting when it's given to him.

    As for a Raja Bell or Terrence Williams (or Shane Battier) being more consistent because they give less to the team, I really don't think that's the case. While Raja Bell can get hot and make some shots, that was always a bonus for the Suns over being a constant nuisance for the opponent's best wing. Even when Kobe would go for 40 against the Suns, Raja would be taking away a piece of his game, or keeping him from facilitating. Right now, we really don't have anyone who can consistently guard Lebron or Kobe.

    Since there aren't many players, especially on the wing, like MJ or Kobe who match their incredible offense with shutdown defense, we need to be targeting a defensive specialist. If we could trade up and get Evans or Harden with their offensive upside, that would be great (though I'd rather see Hill/Williams than Harden/Blair), otherwise Williams could develop into a streaky outside shooter with a bit of driving and decent slashing ability. He'd be a great complement to BG (and Deng), and could even develop into a starter with enough offense coming from elsewhere. In fact, even if he never contributes much on offense (which wouldn't be true, since even if he's not going to score, he'll be able to play within the offense, and keep the ball moving with his strong passing), I'd still take him over Raja because he has a size advantage that would allow him to match up against Lebron, and he's going to contribute on the glass.

    I like BG, I really do. I'd love to see him stay, but I really want to see him proudly coming off the bench, or sharing starting time with a defensive guy based on matchups.

  • What happened to Rose's pre-draft status as a great pass first point guard with rare athletic and finishing ability? I'm not ready to give up on that side of him after one season, especially after his teammates' shooting for most of the year forced him to become a scorer early on. If he really doesn't have great court vision, maybe they should move him to SG sooner rather than later. But, I think once he gets a better feel for the pick and roll at the pro level (or VDN's is replaced with a better system) with the talent around him, we're still going to see him develop into a great all around PG.

    As far as T. Williams, the reason I like him so much is that I see a very high floor with the defensive and rebounding elements. With his stealing and rebounding numbers, and his NBA ready size, I just can't see him failing to make it as at least a defensive role player. And with those minutes earned for his defense, he'll hopefully be able to develop into an offensive niche.

    It seems to me, half the battle to becoming a defensive specialist is to be willing to accept that sort of thankless job. Another big part is being a hard worker, which Williams' conditioning is a testament to. He sure seems pretty low risk.

    If Gordon is going to start, I see the Bulls struggling on defense and needing to run. If they want to return to the Skyles form of strong defense, Gordon will be a liability as a starter. That's not saying they shouldn't be running anyway, but with a more defensive minded 2, the defense will create the breaks. Ideally, I'd rather see a great defender like Marion or Battier at the 3 to free up the 2 for a scorer, but I don't see Deng being that player. At least not yet.

    Another benefit of T. Williams, he should have the size to bounce over to the 3 without giving much up.

  • I can see that, I guess Rose doesn't have the best court vision. And I do see most of his assists coming off the drive. But still, I want to see him passing first in that situation, and shooting when the pass isn't there, or when they blow the coverage on him by overprotecting the pass. I also see him getting a big with a competent jump shot a ton of assists with that sort of scheme. Think about it, Rose drives, drawing a triple team, and he kicks it out to someone like Amare, Bosh, or TT if his shot starts to drop. They're open, but so is Deng slashing to the basket, who gets an easy layup. With Noah's potential passing out of the high post, I would LOVE to see him develop a 15 footer for exactly that reason. It's also one of the reasons I like Jordan Hill so much, he has that well rounded game (though underdeveloped) that would make Rose even more dangerous.

    I would rather have Deng than Salmons, though I'd rather have a version of Deng that plays better defense. And honestly, I'd rather a defensive specialist that can play the 2 or 3, and even be able to defend either a 1 or 4. Someone like Battier being able to cover most 4's, Bell being able to get most 1's. Marion is amazing because he can guard just about anyone for at least a few minutes, he's so fundamentally sound, fast, and strong for his length. But being able to play two positions is key, or it will be more difficult to get minutes without being an offensive threat.

    PG: Rose, Hinrich
    SG: Gordon, Williams, Hinrich
    SF: Deng, Williams, TT
    PF: TT, Noah
    C: Noah, Miller

    Maybe get a Chase Budinger in there at SG/SF, too, just to get another shooter into the mix for 8-12 minutes a game. On the other hand, this would be nice, too.

    PG: Rose, ?
    SG: Gordon, Williams
    SF: Alando Tucker, Williams
    PF/C: Amare, Noah, TT, Miller

    No, I don't like Salmons very much. I'm glad we got him because he sparked the playoff run. But I think he's going to be a black hole this year. I'm sure he'll be in the rotation, but... I'd rather he wasn't.

    One more, with the perfect draft and free agency, in my eyes:

    PG: Rose, ? (Hinrich traded for a top 5 pick)
    SG: Gordon, Williams, Budinger
    SF: Deng, Williams, Budinger
    PF: TT, J. Hill
    C: Noah, Miller... with Asik replacing Miller in the future

  • Mark my words, within four years, Jordan Hill is going to be the best big in this draft, and we should have the ability to trade up for him. Griffin is going to get ruined by the Clippers.

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