As one of the best athletes in the draft, it's no real surprise that Aaron Gordon found more of his offense in transition than anybody else in this group of power forwards, as over 19% of his possessions came on the break. While his efficiency in transition opportunities was surprisingly low (59.4% shooting and 0.93 points per possession), his ability to beat other big men down the floor is something that he should be able to do early in his career while the rest of his offensive game catches up.
At 0.99 points per possession in the half-court, Gordon was one of the more efficient players among this group of power forwards, although a big part of that is because of how selective he was able to be on the deep Arizona team. Gordon used only 11 possessions per game in the half-court, less than all the prospects in this group except Clint Capela (7.8 possessions), Khem Birch (9.8), Nikola Jokic (10.2), and Noah Vonleh (11.7), as he was not forced to try to generate all that much offense for either himself or his teammates.
Gordon was able to get over 30% of his offense off of a combination of cuts and put-backs, both high percentage shots, and with his athleticism and nose for the ball, two things he should be able to continue to do, even if he'll be at a size disadvantage at the next level while his body physically matures. Projecting his ability to create his own shot isn't quite as simple, as even at the collegiate level he rarely created in isolation situations (1.2 possessions per game), on the pick and roll (0.6 possessions per game), or post-ups (1.1 possessions per game). Then there's also the questions about his jump shot, as his 29.3% shooting on jumpers throughout the season and dreadful 42.2% from the line leave plenty to be desired.
We joined Aaron Gordon as he works out in preparation for the 2014 NBA Draft, and discussed a number of topics with him, including what he's trying to improve on in the short-term and what he feels he can bring to a NBA team.
A video breakdown of Aaron Gordon featuring previously unreleased footage from the Nike Hoop Summit and McDonald's All-American game practices and scrimmages last year. We also conducted an interview back then, which you can watch here.
Aaron Gordon: One of the most athletic prospects in the draft, Gordon helped himself in the measurements department as well standing 6-7 ½ without shoes (estimated to be around 6-8 ½ to 6-9 with shoes) to go along with a 6-11 ¾ wingspan. Gordon measured only 6-6 without shoes less than a year ago at USA Basketball. Although different styles of players, the 221-pound Gordon had similar measurements to Paul George (6-7 ¾, 214 pounds, 6-11 ¼ wingspan).
Aaron Gordon has played a key role on 20-0 Arizona's emergence as the #1-ranked team in college basketball, showing tremendous versatility as a defender, passer, finisher and all-around glue guy. -NBA Draft Prospect of the Week: Clint Capela (Video Scouting Report) -NBA Draft Prospect of the Week: Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Video Scouting Report) -NBA Draft Prospect of the Week: Shabazz Napier (Video Scouting Report) -NBA Draft Prospect of the Week: Bogdan Bogdanovic (Video Scouting Report) -NBA Draft Prospect of the Week: Joel Embiid (Video Scouting Report) -NBA Draft Prospect of the Week: Julius Randle (Video Scouting Report) -NBA Draft Prospect of the Week: Jabari Parker (Video Scouting Report) -Revisiting Nikola Mirotic (Video Scouting Report) -Revisiting Alexis Ajinca (Video Scouting Report)With that said, his offensive limitations--he's neither a prolific, nor particularly efficient, scorer--cause some scouts to question just how high his NBA upside might be.
Tough road games against Duke, Michigan, San Diego State and UCLA have given us ample opportunity to evaluate Gordon's strengths and weaknesses as a prospect, which we've done in the following video scouting report, courtesy of Mike Schmitz.
All of our video scouting reports this season can be found here.
Likely the best athlete on the roster, Aaron Gordon will undoubtedly play an important role on this squad, as he proved to be one of the most versatile players in attendance throughout the training camp in Colorado Springs.
Watch this Dunk (trust us)
Showing an extremely unique blend of physical attributes, intensity and smarts, Gordon set the tone right off the bat with his no-nonsense attitude, having no qualms whatsoever about going into the paint and making his presence felt. He grabbed seemingly every loose ball that came off the defensive glass, often skying well high above the rim to do so, and then sometimes initiating the break on his own. He also showed a little bit of a post game, utilizing his superior quickness and aggressiveness to score points, despite not possessing an overly advanced back to the basket arsenal or the thickest frame around. Defensively, Gordon was everywhere, switching out onto guards, making plays at the rim, and playing with a fantastic motor to compliment his tremendous athleticism.
While Gordon isn't the most skilled player aroundhis ball-handling skills in the half-court are somewhat crude, and his jump-shot still very much on the streaky sidehe impressed again and again with his terrific passing ability. He's an extremely unselfish player who reads the floor well and finds the open man consistently for easy baskets. Although question marks remain about how effectively he'll score in the half-court early on in his career until his skill-level increases and his frame fills out, his high basketball IQ will certainly help him contribute in other areas in the meantime.
Even though it still seems like Gordon's biggest advantages lie as a mismatch threat at the power forward positionboth facing the basket or making plays around the rimhe's likely talented enough to make it work wherever he plays. Arizona is indeed planning on starting him at small forward next season according to what we've been told, but he'll see a good amount of time at power forward as well. Either way, Gordon has to be considered one of the top prospects in next year's draft class, and he'll be heavily scouted on this USA Basketball team in Prague.
Strengths: -One of the most explosive athletes in high school basketball -A highlight reel waiting to happen any time he steps out on the floor -Very intelligent and mature player, despite his age -Fundamentally sound. Makes the extra pass. Plays the right way. Good teammate -Solid ball-handler, particularly in the open court -Tremendous first step, which puts a great deal of pressure on the defense. Draws lots of fouls by simply attacking opposing big men in a straight line -Can make an open jump-shot with feet set -Plays extremely hard -Very good rebounder. Boxes out. Puts an effort in on the glass
Weaknesses: -Somewhat undersized for a power forward at 6-8 -Still needs to keep improving his skill-level offensively -Not a knockdown shooter yet -Shooting mechanics pulling up off the dribble still need work -Doesn't have much of a post game -Needs to continue to improve his ball-handling skills in the half-court
Outlook: One of the youngest players in his class. Appears to have significant upside still. Body should continue to fill out impressively. Already extremely productive despite some clear limitations, thanks to effort level, athleticism and smarts.
Strengths: -Phenomenal body -Phenomenal athlete -Tremendous asset in transition thanks to the way he runs the floor and can finish around the rim -Pogo stick on offensive glass -Can make the extra pass -Can create off dribble from the perimeter with simple ball-handling moves -Elevates incredibly well around the basket -First step is very strong -Not the tightest handle, but can work on that -Has some back to the basket skills. -Footwork, pivots. Uses quickness, fluidity -Really competes on defense -Dives on floor for loose balls. Consummate team player -Makes plays on defense thanks to his athleticism -Can block a shot -Plays with passion. Very positive presence on the floor -Always encouraging teammates -Incredibly young, still only 16 years old
Weaknesses: -Has good, but not great size for a power forward at 6-8, with a 6-11 wingspan -Long, ugly stroke from 3-point line -Really needs to work on perimeter shooting ability -48% FT line at EYBL -Settles for ill-advised jumpers at times -No left hand
Outlook: A modern power forward who shows flashes versatility offensively, but is still improving his skill-level and polish. Incredible athlete who has drawn some comparisons to Blake Griffin due to his complexion and highlight reel dunking ability. Struggled with injuries in the tournament we watched him, but still gave 100% every moment he was on the floor regardless. Has excellent long-term potential, especially if he can develop a consistent jump-shot. One of the youngest players in this high school class.