Dec 11, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Aaron Gordon (11) prepares to pass during the first half against the New Mexico State Aggies at McKale Center. Arizona won 74-48. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Player Profile: Aaron Gordon


Aaron Gordon
Freshman
6’9, 220 lbs. F, Arizona

Overview: Aaron Gordon is arguably the most athletic freshman of this year’s class. Gordon is a highlight reel waiting to happen. He’s explosive as they come, has elite hops and gets off the ground very quickly. Gordon possesses pretty good body control and is a terror in the open floor.

Strengths:

  • Outstanding athlete
  • One of the most explosive players in his class
  • Fantastic in transition
  • Can play above the rim
  • Unselfishness/Good teammate
  • Plays smart
  • High motor
  • Quick first step
  • Good passer
  • Solid rebounder
  • Not afraid of contact
  • Capable shotblocker
  • Active defensively
  • Solid lateral quickness
  • Roleplayer potential

Weaknesses:

  • Perimeter shot
  • Poor free throw percentage
  • Doesn’t display much ability in the low post
  • Not always aggressive offensively
  • Very dependent on being set up by teammates at this stage
  • Not an advanced ballhandler
  • Overall lack of offensive polish
  • Stuck between positions?
  • Needs more bulk to be a legitimate starting power forward
  • Good, but not great length
Dec 14, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Aaron Gordon (11) shoots on Michigan Wolverines forward Mitch McGary (4) in the second half at Crisler Center. Arizona won 72-70. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 14, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Aaron Gordon (11) shoots on Michigan Wolverines forward Mitch McGary (4) in the second half at Crisler Center. Arizona won 72-70. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

What’s encouraging about Gordon is his effort and motor. Despite being a raw offensive talent and lacking prolific scoring ability, Gordon has only scored in single digits one time this season. Gordon works hard for his points and isn’t a liability on offense because of it. Gordon is at his best when he’s being set up by teammates inside the paint and around the basket.

However, Gordon plays mostly at small forward alongside a similar player in Brandon Ashley and seven footer Kaleb Tarczewski at center. Touches in the paint aren’t as frequent for Gordon and it’s common to see him positioned far away from the basket. As a result, Gordon doesn’t always get great high percentage opportunities; he’s only shooting 47 percent from the field.

Gordon isn’t a strong jump shooter, though he’s capable of making a few shots with a lot of space and his feet set. Defenses are very content with Gordon taking a long jump shot. Gordon has a slow release and could use a great deal of work on his mechanics. He has managed to make 37 percent of his 16 3-pointers. He’ll need to improve his jump shot to keep defenses honest. It will likely start at the free throw line, where Gordon is shooting a miserable 45 percent.

Not limited to flashy dunks, Gordon is a good passer as well. He’s very unselfish and knows when to make the extra pass.Gordon has a strong, quick first step off the dribble, allowing him to make a play at the rim with his athleticism or dump the ball off. He shows solid ballhandling ablity in the open floor as well.

Due to his elite athleticism, Gordon is able to play above the rim. He absorbs contact well and has solid body control. He is capable of making some pretty athletic and acrobatic finishes. Still, Gordon doesn’t get to the free throw line much. He averages just 6.5 attempts per 40 minutes. He could stand to be more aggressive, but playing out of position again be a factor here.

Dec 7, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Aaron Gordon (11) and UNLV Rebels forward Khem Birch (2) battle for positioning during the second half at McKale Center. The Wildcats won 63-58. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Gordon’s motor translates to the defensive side, where he shows a great deal of upside. Gordon is very active on the defensive glass, averaging a solid 11.7 rebounds per 40 minutes. Gordon moves his feet well, is a capable shot blocker, and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. He shows very good awareness, can stay with his man, and recognizes when to make the right rotation.

Gordon could stand to add some size to his frame. He’s listed at 6’9 and roughly 220 pounds. He could struggle to defend stronger and more physical big men at the next level until he bulks up. His strength could also be a factor in developing a low post game. Overall, it’s tough not to be impressed with Gordon’s defensive ability so far into the season.

While Gordon’s athleticism and explosiveness can easily be compared to Blake Griffin, he plays a much differnt game than the Lob City forward. At this stage, Gordon’s game is a lot closer to Kenneth Faried. Gordon’s lack of overall offensive skill is going to be what scouts hope to see improve approaching the draft. It’s encouraging that Gordon is more than just a pogo stick and will be able to bring a strong defensive effort and high motor right away at the next level.

Gordon should be a lottery pick when he declares for the draft. He’s likely the second best power forward available behind Kentucky’s Julius Randle. Teams will have to know that Gordon might be three or four years away from playing at the level of some of the draft’s more heralded names. Gordon doesn’t have superstar upside, but in the right environment could be a core piece and make a few all-star games.

Tags: Charlotte Bobcats