Name: Aaron Gordon Age: 18 School: Arizona
Height: 6’9 Weight: 225 Projected Position: PF
12.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.0 bpg, 1.9 tpg (31.2 minutes per game)
49.5 FG%, 42.2 FT%, 35.6 3FG%, 50.3 TS%, 51.6 eFG%
23.2 USG%, 10.4 ORB%, 19.3 DREB%, 14.9 TRB%, 3.4 BLK%
SKILLS & ATHLETIC BREAKDOWN
Gordon has the tools to be a good back-to-the basket post player, though he still needs to improve in many ways. He does a good job using his body to establish position in the post area, though he could use his lower body more to create space. He sets a good target for passers and has good hands. Gordon’s post moves are limited, but he has shown solid footwork in the moves he does have. He is able to make a quick move over either shoulder, and finish with either hand in the basket area. His touch needs to improve around the basket, and he does settle for bad looks where having secondary moves would help him out. Gordon needs to work on getting a better sense of where the defense is before he makes a move, often making his move right into the middle of the defense. Gordon needs to work on becoming more comfortable facing up out of the post and using his dribble to get by his man to the basket, though he should continue to work on his jumper out of that situation, as well. Gordon has a tendency to want to start his back-to-the basket moves 10-12 feet away from the basket, giving help defenders plenty of time to get in his way. Gordon can be a strong screener, but he needs to work on making sure he catches a defender before leaving the screen. He has shown that the can open up well to the ball as the “roll” man in the pick-and-roll, but he needs to work on finishing his shots. Gordon understands spacing well and can be very active moving in the post to get in position for the ball. He also can be a good passer out of the post, seeing the floor well, but sometimes forcing passes.
Gordon is a good ballhandler for his size, and is capable of using either hand well over short distances. Gordon has shown that he can make a move to the basket when he gets the ball within 10-15 feet of the basket, though he makes a much stronger move when going to his right. When going to the basket, Gordon uses his body well to shield defenders from the ball, and will try to finish in a variety of ways, including with either hand, around the basket. Gordon needs to do a better job keeping his head up when heading to the basket and sensing where the help defenders are coming from. Also, he needs to work on keeping his dribble closer to his body, as he can let the ball get too far out in front of him, and his first step can use some improvement. Gordon has very good body control when he looks to get to the basket, though he needs to work on finishing. If he has room to dunk though, he will, and rather strongly.
Gordon’s jumper can be a mess, and by the end portion of the season, he almost gave up trying to shoot anything past 10-15 feet. He has shown that he can knock down shots, but if he even hesitates getting into his motion for one second, he will often miss. Part of the problem is mechanical, but there has to be a psychological issue here as well, because he will hit shots on occasion, and look okay doing it. He does a good job getting square to the basket and has a high release, but his follow-through can be awkward. He will hesitate at the point of his release, which will either cause a flat shot, or he will end up letting his wrist go out to the side, making for some very bad misses. Gordon has hit mid-range jumpers off the dribble, but when he does, it’s usually because there is no hesitation from the dribble through to his release. He needs to work on his ability to be able to shot fake and take a dribble or two to get a better look at the basket. Any other action, such as hitting shots as pick-and-pop man will need to wait until he can get some consistency on his shot.
Free Throw Shooting
Gordon is a poor free throw shooter, but I do believe consistent work on fixing some mechanics will help him greatly. He has a consistent routine and good balance at the line, but his release is inconsistent. Sometimes he hesitates at the top of his motion, sometimes his wrist goes out at an angle as he releases. The hesitation in his motion can cause some shots to come off flat. Gordon does a good job drawing contact around the basket, though with his abilities, he could get there more. He goes to the free throw line almost once for every 2 field goal attempts, though he often settled for jumpers instead of attacking the basket.
Perimeter Defense (On/Off Ball)
Gordon is a very good on-ball perimeter defender for his size, and capable of guarding multiple positions. Most times, He positions himself well between his man and the basket, gets low and has a good defensive stance. His lateral movement is good over short distances, though his reaction time to changes in direction can be quicker, and he can find himself getting beat on the corner. Gordon also needs to watch playing too close to his man on occasion, leaving susceptible to getting beat or fouling. He keeps his hands and feet active, and has good awareness. Gordon does a good job closing on perimeter shooters, though like many young players, he is quick to fall for shot fakes and getting drawn off his feet. Off the ball, Gordon positions himself well and is capable of denying passing lanes, but he can find himself drawn out of position if guarding an offensive player who likes to move around the floor. His quick leaping ability does allow him to give some room out on the perimeter and he can still challenge shots well, but he still needs to be mindful of his positioning.
Post Defense/Help Defense
Gordon has shown the ability to defend post players, creating a balanced base with his legs and positioning himself well between his man and the basket. He also has shown good footwork when defending against both back-to-the-basket and face-up post moves, though his reaction time can be better. Gordon will often try to deny post-entry passes, though he often finds himself caught off-balance if he isn’t successful. Gordon needs to work on building up his strength and using his lower body better to force his man away from the basket. He uses his quick hands well to poke the ball out of the hands of players who aren’t careful with it. Gordon’s defensive awareness is very good, but he needs to improve as a help defender. He is often a step or so slow to react and doesn’t get to help position in time to make a play. Gordon can be a good shot-blocker, even if he isn’t in great position to start. He has good timing and is a very quick leaper, although he falls to easily for head and shot fakes, and does a good job extending straight up to go after shots; he just needs to work more on getting into help position quicker. In pick-and-roll situations, Gordon hedges well on the ballhandler, but will either recover to his man late, or leave too early. Gordon needs to watch how he gets through screens off the ball, especially working to find the quickest route to his man.
Gordon has a great knack for tracking missed shots and getting into position to grab the rebound. He uses his body well to box out opponents and once he has position, he goes very strong after the ball. As on the defensive end, Gordon will need to add some strength for the next level, but he is so active, he still finds ways to get to the ball. On the offensive end, Gordon can be very aggressive going after missed shots, and, again, he is so active, it can be tough for defenders to get a body on him. He has also shown a nice ability to tip balls in around the basket when he has the opportunity, as well as being able to get decent shots off when he gets an offensive rebound. With the added strength, he should be able to get better shots off in traffic after grabbing offensive boards, as well as be able to compete with bigger and more physical forwards on the defensive end.
Gordon runs the floor extremely well for his size and can be a good option on the break streaking to the basket either running one of the wings or getting out in front of the defense. Gordon does a great job catching passes around the basket and finishing strong, while also showing good body control. He has also shown that he can initiate the transition offense himself, though it will be tough for him at the NBA level until his ballhandling skills get better.
Gordon entered college with a reputation as a superior athlete who could leave people in awe when he went up for a dunk. He didn’t disappoint there at all this year. Gordon also proved to be a very good ball defender with a very strong basketball IQ. He can be relentless on the boards, especially on offense, and he has a knack for just finding the right combination of space and timing to make a big play. However, Gordon’s game is still very raw in many ways. He is not as good a ballhandler yet as he seems to think he is, and his shooting outside of a few feet can be tough to watch. As a power forward, his constant activity can be a lot for a defender to handle, but he has a tendency to take himself out of plays, or many times just seemed to be in the way as Arizona ran their offense. Gordon will likely need to bulk up a bit to handle the rigors of the NBA paint, but his athleticism will give him some advantages, especially the way he can get out and run the floor in transition.
Draft Value: Late Lottery-Mid 1st – #9-16
Gordon will still only be 18 years old when the draft comes along, and there are many things he does right now that will have teams interested in him (rebounding, running the floor, defending). However, the parts of his game which are behind developmentally are really behind, and I wouldn’t expect much out of him for the first couple of seasons other than some strong rebounding and some spectacular dunks. How well he will do after that will depend on how the rest of his development comes along.
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Photo: Casey Sapio/USA TODAY