After weeks and weeks of speculation, the Orlando Magic finally made their pick. With the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the Magic selected Aaron Gordon, forward, from the University of Arizona. Last season, Gordon averaged 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.0 blocks on a True Shooting percentag of 50.3. Gordon is expected to be an instant contributor for the Magic, and offers another athlete at both forward positions.
For starters, Gordon is an athlete. A monster athlete. At the NBA Draft Combine, Gordon measured out at 6’8.75 in shoes, a 6’11.75 wingspan, and a 39.0 Max Vert. At Arizona, Gordon played a ton of power forward, but he can also dabble at the small forward position a bit, which is something Orlando could use. The combination of Maurice Harkless and Aaron Gordon is just one of the more interesting combinations for Orlando at first glance. Next to Nikola Vuecic, the Magic need someone who can defend, an athletic post player, who can also prevent opponents from attacking the lane, and force jumpers; Aaron Gordon has all the tools to be that guy right away for Orlando.
The downside is that Gordon is more athlete than basketball player at the moment. He seems fluid as a defensive player, but his offensive game is primal at this point. Outside of tip-ins, dunks, and put-backs, I struggle to see where Gordon will score early in his career. In a sense, Gordon will have to be very similar to Denver’s Kenneth Faried as a hustler for his points as his offensive game blossoms.
The biggest problem is his jump shot. It’s non-existent at this point, but more importantly, it affects his free throw shooting. Last season, Gordon shot 42 percent from the free throw line. Moving back on the floor, Gordon was no better, shooting 35 percent on a low amount of attempted threes. Hoop-Math.com had Gordon at 27.5 percent on two point jumpers, which is scary at this point. Getting shooting reps will help him figure his game out, but it could be two or three seasons before the offensive game- the unassisted, at least- is there.
At first, I liked the pick. I think Gordon is a fine representative of where the NBA is going. The positions are becoming blurred, and the athletes are getting more space to develop. Gordon, athletically, is a NBA player. He can be dropped into the NBA right now and run around, defend a couple positions, block a couple of shots, and finish some spectacular oops.
Looking deeper into the player, I think Orlando got a talent, but I also worry that passing on Noah Vonleh and Dante Exum could come back to haunt them. I’m not doubting Rob Hennigan, though. There’s a real chance Gordon’s jumper can improve, and at age 21, we could be looking at Oladipo, Gordon, and Harkless as a solid defensive trio that seals every passing lane while offering their point guard two shooters. I think it’s a wait and see approach, though.