After “oohing” and “aahing” us for one year at Arizona, Aaron Gordon found his way onto the Orlando Magic thanks in large part to his strong play on the defensive end, and unlimited upside overall. Gordon, the fourth overall pick, saw his first NBA action at last weeks Orlando Summer League, and while he struggled, there should be no worries for the Magic and their fans.
Gordon, who was a surprising selection at four, comes in extremely raw on the offensive end, while being rather refined on the defensive end. Over the past week, he showed some signs on both ends, but still has a long way to go, especially on the offensive end and working on developing a more refined jump shot. There’s some small things he can do with his jumper to really iron it out, most notably becoming more consistent with not only his balance, but his release point as well.
Statistically, Gordon had one of the worst Summer League’s of a Magic first round draft pick ever. His Summer League was basically equivalent to that of former Magic big man Daniel Orton, who, well, has struggled quite a bit to find not only playing time, but a steady home in the NBA. Need not worry, however, as Gordon is willing to put in the work and continue to work and refine his game, something that Orton certainly hasn’t.
He predominantly played small forward throughout the week, but also saw some time at the four and five, proving just how versatile the former Wildcat can be. He has all of the tools to be a monster on the boards, and while his numbers may not show that — he averaged 5.0 rebounds for the week — his skill set and position should allow him to help Nikola Vucevic gobble up the boards.
The 6-foot-9 Gordon is lethal defensively, thanks in large part to his great athleticism and motor, which he showed off all week, particularly on this acrobatic block against the Philadelphia 76ers. Gordon has the potential to come in and be one of the better defensive wings in the league, and his hard work on that end has really shown. He’s very vocal, talking to his teammates on every possession, pointing out which direction screens are coming, and being crisp to rotate over when needed.
While his numbers may not have been impressive — he averaged just 7.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game — he’s still the second youngest player from this years draft and has a lot of room to grow. He’s going to have to work on finding a comfort zone on the offensive end, and show off an improved jumper to really make teams respect him on that end of the floor early on. Gordon has solid handles for a player his size, and when he’s dribbling with a purpose, he can potentially be able to create for himself and others.
He’s got some chemistry with a couple of the guys already, most notably Elfrid Payton whom he played with last year in the U19 World Championships, and will undoubtedly continue to grow more with his teammates as the summer and training camp wears on. For now, the Magic just need to focus on finding ways to get him involved in situation’s he’s comfortable in, while also continuing to work hard on his jumper. He’s a project, but one that could pay off in a big way for the Magic down the line.