Prospect Examination: Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon entered this past college season as one of the best prospects in college basketball and eventual NBA player. The Arizona freshmen wasn’t followed with a keen eye like the other freshmen around the country; Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid etc. The high-flyer has “OMG” athletic ability and just watching him you might have to check and make sure nobody is playing NBA 2K. But despite his “video-game” talents, he is a certain lock to go in the lottery but exactly where he might end up is as questionable as the sexuality of Donald Sterling’s mistress V. Stiviano.

Some believe Gordon is a future star and some believe he’s a role player well either way someway somehow he will be a intricate part to a young NBA team. Coming into his lone season at Arizona under Head Coach Sean Miller, he played the Small Forward position but didn’t excel as a wing player as many pundits thought. Gordon is another “tweener” in the league which something not to brag about, but with the right team he’ll be alright. Just looking at his season averages, you can tell that Gordon struggled with his shot and isn’t the most reliable person at the charity strike. But what well translate to the NBA is his rebounding ability but his offense will need to be retooled.
In 34 games, Gordon averaged:
Gordon is a 6’8, 210-pound 18-year-old. Earlier I stated that he is a “tweener”, and being that isn’t the best thing in the NBA. A few examples of “tweeners” in the association are Anthony Bennett, Derrick Williams and Thomas Robinson. All three players were top-5 picks in their respective drafts, but haven’t quite panned out as expected. Bennett being drafted No. 1 in 2013 surprised everyone and Williams being drafted No. 2 in 2011 was expected after he dominated college but his struggle at his new job wasn’t predicted. Robinson was selected No. 5 and was thought of as the next big thing with his motor but it hasn’t quite quite panned out but he is having the best career of everyone else. The potential is there for Gordon to struggle in the league as he has no true position.
NBA scouts have been quite critical of Gordon as he has had a quite grotesque season for a potential lottery pick.
I think Aaron Gordon would greatly benefit from another year,” one scout said. “He has to improve to play the 3 and small-ball 4 at the next level. I think as a true 4 in the NBA, he will be a fringe starter at best.
When the teammate of Gordon, Brandon Ashley, suffered a injury one NBA scout thought that was a opportunity that Gordon needed.
He’s stuck between positions and I think we’re going to have to embrace the fact that ideally, he’s a four in our league,” one scout said. “Now that Brandon Ashley likely is out the season, he’ll move to his natural position and I think that will help his stock. Once he gets stronger, I think he’ll be fine there. He’s so quick, plays the game the right way and plays so hard, he’s going to be really good. But you have to understand what he is and what he isn’t.
When Gordon played for Team USA at the FIBA U19 World Championships, Team USA coach and current Florida Gators coach, Billy Donovan compared Gordon to his former player, current Chicago Bulls center and reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year – Joakim Noah.
I don’t mean to say he’s the same kind of player, but in terms of coaching him, he reminds me in a lot of ways of Joakim Noah,” Donovan said. “He’s got that energy and that kind of passion.
A lot of guys are really talented and athletic,” Donovan said. “What makes him so different is his effort, his energy. … There are things he’s got to get better on – he doesn’t necessarily have this great scoring skill, in terms of a low-post game yet or he’s not this great 3-point shooter.
I think he’s got such an incredible ceiling because the things I’m talking about,” Donovan said.“He can get better at those things. What you can’t teach, and I think is so important, is an incredible motor. He really has an incredible motor.
The offensive game for Gordon will take a few years to develop as his NBA career progresses. According to Matt Moore of, Gordon ranked in the 12th percentile in jumpshots, 13th in putbacks and 15th in post-ups. The young-man has a 6’11.5″ wingspan an above average vertical and should be able to execute more on putbacks. His post-ups and shooting will obviously have to be something he works on in his downtime to become a threat. Gordon though, is a threat when he enters the painted area as he could finish with authority or simply lay it in. He has great control in the air also but his real weakness to his game is his free-throw shooting.
What he does, he does a little bit of everything,” Miller said. And he can really handle the ball. Hes an unselfish passer, hes great in transition. He can rebound at both ends. From a defensive perspective, its like hes an upperclassman. He can guard a variety of players. And he takes that part of his game seriously. … Im almost describing an older player and yet Aaron just turned 18 years old.
Gordon though, is great at defense as he was No. 2 in the PAC-12 in Defensive Win shares at 3.0 and with his footwork along with his wingspan well almost certainly come with him to the NBA.
Everybody in the NBA loves defensive players, and his coach Sean Miller noticed his capability on that end.
Ive never had such a young player be so locked in and capable on the defensive end,” Miller said. “While its hard to argue that an NBA should draft a lockdown defender so high in such a loaded draft, the thought is Gordons offensive skillset has only scratched the surface. He guards multiple players each game. In Aarons case, he plays the low post, against a post player, and then he turns around and guards perimeter players. I can say that I dont think any that Ive coached have been successful as a freshman doing that.
What’s so unique about Aaron Gordon’s defense? Miller thinks it comes in the versatility that allows the freshman forward to handle big men and perimeter players alike. ‘I can say that I don’t think anyone that I’ve coached have been successful as a freshman doing that,’ Miller said.
If you follow college basketball, then might’ve heard Gordon get unneeded and far fetched comparisons to Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin. Gordon is nowhere close to the talent level of Griffin and his coach Sean Miller came to his defense on the comparisons.
I think its unfair to put that on Aaron,” said Sean Miller. I dont know if hes as much of a post player as Blake Griffin is. Aaron might not even be as big physically as Blake Griffin. … But he does some other things that are much different. Hes much more fluid away from the basket entering his freshman year, I think if you would make that comparison at equal time, than Blake Griffin [was]. The one thing they share is athleticism in and around the basket or in transition.
Aaron Gordon is a very high-risk player of this years crop of players. The kid isn’t offensive talented to be a 3-man and isn’t big enough to play 4-spot. He is still a teenager and should add muscle to his brittle frame or else he will be lunch meat to his opposition and become a liability to his team. Gordon has so many flaws that I question as to why he wouldn’t stay another year at Arizona because right now in my opinion he is a D-league player and won’t be around the league for a long term and I’m just making that assumption based off of his season at AU. Put it like this, I think Gordon is a bust.

NBA Comparisons: Shawn Marion, Kenneth Faried, Derrick Williams
Best Fits: Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers

Clevis Murray

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