The NBA Draft has come and gone, and as expected there were plenty of movers and shakers on the night. When it came time for the Orlando Magic to use their fourth pick, players like Dante Exum and Julius Randle were still on the board.
As it happened the team went with neither, and while it wasn’t a shock of Anthony Bennett proportions, the team instead opted to bring in Aaron Gordon from Arizona. A ball hasn’t been bounced yet, but let’s take a look at how the move could potentially pan out for both team and player.
Obviously Gordon wasn’t the biggest name in this draft, although even some casual fans would have been aware of who he was. He was also the youngest player picked at the event in Brooklyn, showing that Orlando has no problem giving young players a chance, but we knew this already.
If you know next to nothing about him, what needs to be point out are the immediate ways in which he can help this team, and there are a few. On the defensive end it is expected that he could play in an NBA game tomorrow and more than hold his own against some guys on the court.
Add to that his athleticism, and here we have an explosive kind of player in that he can get out in transition and cause panic for opponents. His ball handling needs work, and from what we have seen so far there is no go-to jump shot if need be.
In fact, his shooting in general needs work. But as a forward, he will be able to grab rebounds and use his length and hops to get stops and finish some pretty plays.
Many experts felt that this guy had the best up side of anybody in the draft, which goes to show you how highly he is regarded in some circles. More than that though, he is a good fit for this team.
Picking a forward and then also trading for point guard Elfrid Payton on draft night finally gave the Magic some clarity above the direction they are going in. By trading away Arron Afflalo as well waiving Jameer Nelson, this team now has Victor Oladipo (who may now be able to finally spend more time in his natural shooting guard role) Evan Fournier and Payton as guards.
Of the four named, three are below-average defenders and we don’t know yet what Payton can do defensively. This makes having a defensive-minded player in Gordon more important.
As a part of a deep Arizona team, Gordon did not have to generate much offense, he fed off of the scraps he was given. You have to feel things will work the same in Orlando, with little plays being drawn up specifically for him.
The fact Gordon is already used to making a difference without the ball in his hands is a promising sign for the Magic, and in fact his skill set and intangibles are something a lot of teams would like to have. He’s not bursting into the franchise demanding the ball, his style of play isn’t like that, he is what the Magic hope will be a high-level complimentary piece to the puzzle.
Despite having the fourth pick and being pretty terrible last year, people forget that this Orlando team is now entering Year 3 of a rebuild and is further along than several other teams. That is another reason drafting Gordon made sense.
General manager Rob Hennigan has the young players he feels can make a difference, and the Afflalo deal probably won’t be the last of the summer either. This team will be better next year, and while there were bigger names to choose from, it is the style and play of Gordon that fits in best with the direction this team is going in.
So while some fans may not be in total agreement about selecting Gordon, there is much to like about his game going forward. It’s not all positive of course, his most glaring weaknesses are his jump shot, and inability to create next to any offence with the ball.
Defensively he’s a terrier though, somebody who will play hard on that end of the floor for 48 minutes while also grabbing about seven boards a night given extended minutes, despite his slightly below average build for a power forward.
We’ll call it now, Aaron Gordon won’t be rookie of the year next season. But he’s the kind of player every team serious about winning needs.
We can’t call him a glue guy yet, a Shane Battier type, because we haven’t seen him in a professional organization’s locker room. But that’s the end goal for him, and if that doesn’t work out he’s still got the ability to be a sought after role player for a long time.
Sprinkle in the odd Blake Griffin li’l putback he has shown on occasion, and it won’t be long before Orlando fans are glad they took this guy when they did.