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PROSPECT PROFILE: AARON GORDON

by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer

PLAYER SUMMARY – With many players spending just a single season in college, there isn’t much time to make a big impression. But Aaron Gordon made his mark at Arizona, garnering plenty of individual accolades and awards while leading his team to wins in their first 20 contests and an eventual trip to the Elite Eight.

Gordon will probably be considered an “energy” player at the next level – a supreme athlete loaded with intangibles but lacking polish offensively. But Gordon is also one of the youngest players in this year’s Draft and has plenty of time to hone his skillset on that end of the floor. What Gordon does bring to the table is a relentless motor, elite athleticism, a team-first attitude and high basketball IQ. While not a pure back-to-the-basket post player, Gordon is an excellent finisher around the rim. He’s a very good offensive rebounder because of his quick leaping ability and moves well around the hoop without the ball – making himself a good target down low. For a big man, he’s a decent ball-handler and solid passer who’s willing to get his teammates involved.

On the defensive end, Gordon has an impressive skillset – having defended all three frontcourt positions in his single season at Arizona. He’s a very good rebounder with a real nose for the ball and a solid-but-not-spectacular shot-blocker. A coach’s dream, the extremely well-conditioned Gordon always goes hard and never takes plays off, forcing opponents to account for him at all times.

The critiques of Gordon’s game mostly come from the offensive end, where he is somewhat limited at this point. Despite being Arizona’s second-leading scorer who can sometimes can the 22-footer, he has a lot of work to do offensively. He doesn’t have a soft shooting touch from the outside and struggled badly (42 percent) from the stripe as a freshman.

One of Gordon’s biggest positives is that he “knows who he is” – a guy who plays to his strengths, understands his limitations and works well within a team concept. He’s a smart, tough, athletic player with a lot of upside who should be able to fit well within any system.

PLAYER SNAPSHOT

  • Height: 6-8
  • Weight: 225
  • Position: PF
  • College: Arizona

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PLAYER HIGHLIGHTS – In high school, Gordon averaged 21.6 points and a school-record 15.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks as a senior, leading Archbishop Mitty to state titles in 2011 and 2012 – the first in program history. He was just the fourth player ever to be named California Mr. Basketball twice – joining John Williams, Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler. In FIBA competition, he earned MVP honors while leading the US to gold medal in 2013 U19 World Championship, averaging 16.2 points, 6.2 boards and shooting 61.2 percent from the floor.

At Arizona, Gordon averaged 12.4 points, 8.0 boards and 2.0 assists in 38 starts as a freshman. He was a Sporting News Third Team All-American, and Honorable Mention AP. He was named First Team All-Pac-12 and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year – helping Arizona to a 33-5 record, a Pac-12 regular season title and an Elite Eight appearance.

PLAYER COMPARISON – Gordon’s style can be compared to other frontcourt energy players who have done quite well in the NBA – guys like Kenneth Faried and even the Cavaliers’ Anderson Varejao. And although he has a completely different style, the 225-pound Gordon – who measured 6-7 ½ without shoes and a 6-11 ¾ wingspan – has similar dimensions to Indiana’s Paul George.

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