The Internet is fantastic for overhyping and scrutinising NBA players in equal measure. Oftentimes we forget that they are actual human beings and not simply athletes to be dissected for our pleasure. With that being said, comparing players and guessing how good they can be is just fun.
We’ve seen a little bit of Orlando Magic rookie Aaron Gordon at the Orlando Summer League and also through his recently released video that shows him throwing down some sick dunks. Some people are a little surprised, but don’t forget this guy was a fourth pick in the draft for a reason. Maybe it’s a stretch, maybe it doesn’t totally make sense, but could we be looking at a player who could one day turn into a Blake Griffin type in this league?
It’s lofty praise for sure, Griffin is one of the top three power forwards in the NBA. While Gordon has done nothing in the league so far, there are some similarities to their games. Most projected Gordon to initially survive in the professional game off of his athleticism.
This would see most of his points come off of team fast breaks or through put backs off missed shots. What we are seeing though is a more advanced offensive game than maybe we realised.
Let’s not get too excited though, because once the season starts Gordon won’t be on the court to score. He won’t be seeing many plays called for him. But having this ability to score now is an advantage that could pay off later.
Consider this, up until this season Griffin had no real midrange shooting touch, it was the one major knock on his game. It took him literally years to develop that aspect of his game, which is fair enough when you see everything else he does on the court.
It would appear from the small sample size given, that Gordon’s midrange game and shooting touch in general is already in a better place. Now, Griffin averaged just shy of 20 points when he participated in the summer league in 2009.
Gordon’s 7.8 points was far more modest, but it was taken on fewer shots. Gordon also wasn’t afraid to shoot the 3, and although he made none of his 10 attempts over the five games he played, at least he had the confidence to take it.
So while Griffin smokes Gordon with regards to how they both got on in the exhibition tournament, Griffin was always expected to be a franchise changer. Gordon comes into the league to much less fanfare, and yet he isn’t a million miles away from his much more accomplished opponent.
Although yes, the gulf in class is clear.
The point is though, already it is clear Gordon has a lot of upside. He has played better to date than many expected, and while he won’t adjust to the pace of the NBA overnight, he’s right where the Magic want him to be at this moment.
Talking about those dunks for a moment as well, this seems to be one area where there is a big resemblance to Griffin’s otherworldly hops.
The hope would be that Gordon doesn’t become as typecast as Griffin initially was in the league, and thus learns to live off of his athleticism alone. He’s got more to his game than that, and it’s encouraging to see if you’re an Orlando fan.
In terms of rebounding, the not so glamorous side of the game, the similarities continue.
He grabbed five rebounds to Griffin’s ten, but what must be remembered was that Gordon was the second youngest player at the tournament. Doing what he is doing now, there is plenty of time for him to grow into an even better and more well rounded player.
Looking at it from Orlando’s point of view only, what Gordon has done so far is almost a bonus. When you consider Nikola Vucevic is the team’s primary rebounder, having somebody like Gordon will add another component to a young and athletic defense. We touched on it earlier, but Gordon won’t really be expected to score, so the modest numbers he posted in summer league really are a bonus in this regard. Put simply he’s a great fit for this growing Magic team.
Let’s not put too much pressure on the shoulders of a young guy yet to play in the league. He’s not going to turn out exactly like Blake Griffin, a perennial All-Star who continues to improve year after year. He is however off to a positive start in his career, and the fact that he can be somewhat compared to a player of Griffin’s calibre shows you that so far he has been doing everything right since being drafted. This guy will be fun to watch his rookie year and will fair better than people expect.