2013-14 Season Stats:
49% from the field
36% from three
42% from the free-throw line
Weight: 220 pounds. Height w/shoes: 6'8.75" . Wingspan: 6'11.75". Max Vert: 39.0
*All measurements come from last month's NBA Draft Combine.
Blake Griffin with better range.
Words often associated with the talented Aaron Gordon are: high-flyer, athletic, free throws, and defense. Gordon, projected to go in the top-10 of this month's draft, has plenty to offer to whichever team scoops him up. Among his strengths, Aaron Gordon possesses superior athletic ability, strong defensive prowess (both individually and as a team defender), versatility, and a high basketball IQ. On top of that, he's great with interviews (underrated!). His weaknesses include lack of a clear position, not enough strength and bulk to play the power forward position, a limited offensive game in some aspects (improving), shooting mechanics, and different finishes around the rim.
Noted as potentially the best defender coming out of this year's draft, he has real value to NBA teams. Particularly on defense, his fundamentals are excellent. Gordon's lateral quickness is superb, allowing him to stay and slide with quick guards on the perimeter. This lends itself to Gordon's ability to guard multiple positions.
Adding to his lethal perimeter defense is his length. On the rare occasion that a perimeter player finds himself beating Gordon to the rim, length prevents that player from easily finishing. Gordon's length also helps him compensate in the post. Where his lack of bulk could hurt him, his length makes up for it. He sticks his arms straight up, forcing defenders to finish over his length (and athleticism on the rare occasion that he leaves his feet). Adding to this is his strong core, not allowing offensive players to establish too deep of a position in the post, and not giving up too much space when they get there despite his arms staying straight up. Will Gordon continue to be able to defend this way at the next level? If he bulks up, sure, for the fundamentals are there. Gordon's help-side defense is superb as well, for he always knows when to and when not to help off of his man to either cover a pick-and-roll. One more note on Gordon's defense: he rarely fouls. He averaged a mere 2.3 fouls per 40 minutes last season.
Finding someone who enjoys and is willing to play defense is hard enough, but to find someone like that with the other skills that Aaron Gordon has is a blessing. Gordon is an athletic freak (see the photo above. That's just one of many plays like that). That said, despite his athletic talents, he does not always go for the home run play, especially in transition. Gordon has the unique ability to grab a rebound, run the length of the floor by himself, and make the right play, be it a pass in transition or finishing the play by himself. He's very unselfish; he'll look to make the right play every time, even though he could always try to dunk it home.
Gordon's versatility extends to his handles. Not having a clear-cut position has allowed Gordon to work on his post-game, finishing at the rim, and defending in the post like a four, and it has permitted him to work on his handles, outside shot, and perimeter defense like a three. More than likely, whatever team drafts him will ask him to play the small forward position. He has the handles to pull it off, and his three-point shooting numbers (sitting at 36%) are decent enough starting points as-is for him to excel.
Speaking of shooting, his mechanics at the free-throw line were horrid last season. The problem stood in the fact that he was shooting free-throws differently than his other mid-range shots. He has melanged them together, forcing his mechanics to improve. Should teams be worried about this? Probably not, since he's overhauled his free throws. They look good.
While a great finisher in transition, Gordon does need to work on his touch in half-court sets. Often on drives, he tries to float the ball to the rim, but his touch and timing are off, resulting in clangers off the rim. However, looking at his recent workout videos, he's already improved this (his three's look improved as well). Little things like finishing on drives along with pull-up jump shots need to be improved even more as he works his way to the NBA. His spot-up game was decent at Arizona, but as NBA defenses will likely roam off of him, he needs to improve to the point where he makes them pay. Also, if his team does indeed ask him to play the three in the NBA, he'll need a solid-enough post-game to use against smaller defenders.
Aaron Gordon has a high upside, and he has a lot to offer to teams drafting in the Lottery. If he can show teams his versatility and other abilities outside of his well-known athleticism in workouts, teams will be more willing to take a flyer on him.