The first big shock of the NBA Draft came when the Orlando Magic selected Arizona’s Aaron Gordon with the fourth overall pick. With Australian point guard Dante Exum still on the board, it appeared as though a no brainer for the Magic, who needed a young point guard desperately. As general manager Rob Hennigan said on Wednesday, the team had seen enough of Exum to possibly select him, they felt as though Gordon would be the best player for them for the future.
In Gordon, the Magic are getting an uber athletic forward who can give them more versatility, as well as being very advanced as a defensive player for his age. He was the youngest player selected on Thursday night, and has a lot of room to grow on both ends of the floor.
After finishing up his media obligations at the draft, Gordon was able to call into Magic facilities and talk with the members of Orlando’s media. Right off the bat, it was clear that Gordon was ready to come in and begin working hard.
After talking about how he thought his workout with the team went “well,” Gordon was asked how much of a relief it was to hear his name called that early. “HUGE, Huge, huge. Um… I want to get a playbook from coach Vaughn. I.. I need a playbook. I need to look over the plays, I need to see, I would love to pick his mind to see what he wants to run. I know it’s pretty far from the season and you have to and figure out what your personnel is before you can coach accordingly, but if I could have a play book or just kind of go through some of the schemes that he likes that would be absolutely amazing. I could sharpen my tools accordingly to fit his style of play.”
To me, this shows just how great of a work ethic that the Arizona product has. Just over two hours after being selected, and he’s already thinking about getting in, getting to work and learning the system. Takes something and someone very special to think that right off the bat.
After making their selections at four and 12, general manager Rob Hennigan came out and met briefly with the media to talk about those selections. Hennigan was asked by OrlandoMagic.com beat writer John Denton if Gordon’s willingness to be physical and work hard on the defensive end appeal to him, to which he said, “Yeah, it appealed very much to us. I think anytime you have someone who wants to defend and gets excited about defending, that’s a positive thing in our eyes and his desire to compete on that end of the floor is genuine in our opinion and we feel that will bode well for him in his career and also for our team.”
Adding Gordon to the mix defensively will be huge next to center Nikola Vucevic, who’s defensive struggles have been well documented over the past two seasons. Gordon, who lead the NCAA in defensive win shares with 3.3, posted an 86.6 defensive rating in his long year as a Wildcat. The Magic were middle of the pack defensively last season, posting a 104.8 defensive rating, while giving up over 100 points in 46 games, and more than 110 points in 18 of those games.
While Gordon is raw, especially on the offensive end, he’s already shown a readiness and willingness to put in the work. He was asked about his jump shot, the work he’s put in since the end of the season and how it’s been reported he chose Arizona with coach Sean Miller to work on that. He had this to say:
“Completely correct. That was definitely one of the reasons I went to Arizona because of the shooting program. I’ve always been able to hit the three periodically to keep people honest, but I want to be more of a knock down shooter than that. I don’t just want to be someone who can hit it periodically, I want to be able to hit it consistently. Even after the season from now I just need to be in the gym and work with Charlie Flores who has worked with Klay Thompson and a bunch of other shooters and they’ve really shown me the mechanics of shooting and once they showed me the mechanics I made the necessary adjustments that when you shoot the ball correctly it should go in.”
I mentioned this on twitter following the draft, but Gordon just screams out a “Hennigan” type guy. He’s a hard worker, with a great head on his shoulders, and he’s ready to come in and play team oriented basketball, just like last years first round selection, Victor Oladipo. While he’s going to take a few years to really make a huge impact on both ends, his defense will prove worth it for the Magic early on. I think we’ll be able to get a much better grasp on this selection in a few years, but if I had to give them a grade right now, I would give the Magic a solid A.