Top 50: Ben Gordon, no. 47

September 1, 2009

By Eric Woodyard (…click on the photo to view this post at Slamonline.com)

The off-season of the National Basketball Association is like a game of chess! Organizations gain great delectation from competitively moving the right pieces to improve their chances of winning… or as Ving Rhames called it in the movie Baby Boy, deciphering the “guns” from the “bBen Gordonutter.”

Now what are the “guns?” The guns are the things that appreciate with value! What’s “butter?” All that other stuff that doesn’t mean anything after you buy it. That’s what it’s about!

Detroit Pistons Manager, Joe Dumars is no different, he goes through the same process. Dumars’ greatest challenge now is to reconstruct a winning franchise from the ground up.

Last season, Dumars went after an AK-47 in Allen Iverson but in the end it turned out to be nothing but regular Blue Bonnet, melting as the season progressed. This season, he hopes Ben Gordon can be that selective rifle. Pulling the trigger and lighting up the opposition with pinpoint shots just as he did in the Chi Town.

Why wouldn’t he be? The 6-3, Akon look-alike brings with him a new commitment to winning that was missing last year. Starting with intense off-season workouts in which he strives for basketball excellence, building camaraderie with teammates, and taking on a new role in his career, there shouldn’t be any doubt in anyone’s mind that Gordon will be top 50 status in the League!

Gordon’s workouts are legendary. They’re an integral piece to his success. They’ve been documented in just about every major basketball publication and airwave. He flouts the same off-season dedication as his Airness and the Black Mamba. He wants to be that good! This season should be no different… In fact, my girl Holly MacKenzie (…Canada stand up!!) just completed a story on his “Summer Vacation” in the latest edition of Hoop, where Gordon touched on this situation.

“I think everyday things are based around what I do on the court,” Gordon said. “So every day [I practice] shooting, ball handling—whatever I’m working on in my game, you know, at that phase or that period.”

“Everyone can shoot the basketball,” Gordon added. “I take pride in taking big shots with the game on the line, knowing my team can rely on me. I attribute that to how I train during the offseason.”

With that mentality of “taking big shots” and “knowing my team can rely on me,” he may be able to single-handedly bring life back into the Detroit Pistons. There will no longer be any worries about who wants that last shot because he’s already made it clear that he does. Prior to this off-season, the fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills had as much faith in the Pistons as the United States citizens did for President Bush during his last year in office—they just weren’t convinced.

This is the perfect spot for BG to become a “superstar” (…Matthew Santos voice) and establish a true fan base. Gordon’s finally in a situation where he doesn’t really have to co-exist with similar talents. This may propel him to having one of his best seasons of his career. I know what you’re thinking… What about Rip Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey? But, Rip can’t create a shot as well as Gordon and Stuckey can’t shoot as good as him so he will be given the opportunity to freelance all over the court. This was not the case in Chicago, where he had to play with the likes of Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich, hindering him from showing his full potential as a basketball player.

He’s also coming into this season with confidence. With a solid playoff performance under his belt against the Boston Celtics where he averaged 24.3 buckets per game, including a 42-point explosion in Game 6, why wouldn’t he be? This may be why he’s made an effort to begin building such great camaraderie with his new teammates in the Motor City…because he’s confident and comfortable.

• He’s joined forces with two former UConn Huskies, Rip Hamilton and Charlie V, to give him some familiarity. (Note: All three of them have been National Champions, just for the record)

• He attended Rip Hamilton’s wedding earlier this summer to show his support for the masked man.

• He signed a five-year deal, along with Villanueva, in an effort to show his commitment toward establishing a new core for the future of Pistons basketball.

All of these factors will play into the success of Gordon’s first season in the red, white and blue. The lucky No. 7 has accepted his role of coming off the bench, which was the problem in the D with Allen Iverson. BG’s also accepted a new role of handling the ball more this season, taking the pressure off Rodney Stuckey in pressure situations.

In his mind, this has never been an issue.

“That was one of the main reasons,” Gordon told Dime earlier this month. “In Chicago, scoring was what I was asked to do. But I can do a lot more—I can make treys, I can pass, I can create. There’s a lot to my game that people haven’t seen, or seen enough of. I think in Detroit I’ll be able to do more than just score.”

Don’t expect him to become Chauncey Billups, but hey you never know…

It seems as if playing in front of the Michigan fans has been his destiny. Since his rookie season, he has constantly drawn comparisons to Pistons legend, Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson and now he will be awarded the opportunity to excite fans in the same fashion. At 26 years old and reaching his prime, don’t expect him to disappoint.

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ‘09-10 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Brett Ballantini, Russ Bengtson, Toney Blare, Shannon Booher, Myles Brown, Franklyn Calle, Gregory Dole, Emry DowningHall, Jonathan Evans, Adam Fleischer, Jeff Fox, Sherman Johnson, Aaron Kaplowitz, John Krolik, Holly MacKenzie, Ryne Nelson, Chris O’Leary, Ben Osborne, Alan Paul, Susan Price, Sam Rubenstein, Khalid Salaam, Kye Stephenson, Adam Sweeney, Vincent Thomas, Tzvi Twersky, Justin Walsh, Joey Whelan, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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