George de Paula
Aaron Gordon | 2014 NBA Draft Profile
Arizona | Freshman | Forward | 6-foot-9 | 225 lbs
2013-14: 35.1 MPG, 18.0 PPG, .429 FG%, .405 3FG%, 5.9 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.8 SPG
Editor’s Note: Throughout June, Timberwolves.com’s Draft coverage presented by Coors Light will profile a series of prospects that could be available at Minnesota’s No. 13 pick, or if they choose to be mobile during the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26. Part XII highlights Arizona power forward Aaron Gordon, an exceptional athlete who decided to leave the Wildcats after one season in Tucson.
Arizona forward Aaron Gordon is a special talent in this year’s NBA Draft. He’s young (will not turn 19 until September) and has a ton of athleticism at his disposal. He can leap out of the gym, he seems to be a sound defensive player and he definitely has the mindset for team success. His Wildcats put together a 33-5 season and a trip to the Elite Eight over the winter, and before that he won back-to-back state championships at his high school.
Now, he’s trying to make the jump and continue that success at the next level.
Gordon led the Pac-12 in offensive rebounding last year, and he was also third in total rebounds, fifth in defensive boards and third in 2-point field goals. According to sports-reference.com, he was also first in the NCAA in defensive win shares, and he led the Pac-12 in defensive rating.
Gordon is explosive and can get to the basket. His 18.0 points per game show he can score the basketball, and his basketball acumen ensures he has the right mindset for success.
Now, the two questions surrounding Gordon are these: his jump shooting, and his true position in the NBA.
His jumper wasn’t exceptionally effective last year at Arizona, and he’s working to correct it. He said at the Draft Combine in Chicago that he’s been working this offseason on trying to combine all of his shots into one fluid motion instead of having different mechanics for different situations. The question is, will he be able to full overhaul his shooting motion right before entering the NBA Draft?
“I overhauled my free throws just because I didn’t have a consistent free-throw shot,” Gordon said. “I don’t have a consistent jumper or a consistent jump shot. I maybe have three different ones. But that’s not OK. You start with not having a specific jumper, and now I have one jumper that shoots every single time. What’s happening is my free throw was disconnected from my jumper. I was getting to the peak of my shot and then shooting. Now, what I’ve done is I’ve connected my 3 and my pull-up and my 17-footer and now my free throws. It’s all one shot. It’s all connected, and it feels great.”
The second question is what will he play at the NBA level? He’s got potential to be a 3 or a 4, but does he have the speed/quickness for the 3 or the size for the 4?
He said he’s comfortable and confident with either.
“I see myself as a forward,” Gordon said. “I see myself as a basketball player. Obviously, you have to play a position in the NBA, but I’m going to be out there. I’ll be able to do a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Post-ups, knock down jumpers, hit 3s, get by people. I feel very confident in myself that I can play the 4 and 3 and wherever somebody wants to play me at is fine.”
The biggest attribute Gordon brings to the table is his athleticism. He’s an incredibly gifted player that has a 6-foot-11 wingspan to go along with his 6-foot-9 height. He’s quick to explode to the rim, and he definitely is a leaper. He can finish with a lot of power and aggressiveness at the basket. On the defensive end, Gordon was known in college for being able to defend multiple positions and is able to play solid team defense. He has good lateral movement and possesses the fundamentals necessary for defensive success. He’s also got great determination and energy, which helps on the defensive end. Gordon will be a player that can drive and dish to his perimeter teammates, attack the rim and create because of his quickness and athletic ability. He’s also one of the youngest players in this year’s Draft, meaning he’ll have a lot of time to continue developing and growing as a player.
Gordon’s biggest weakness is probably his jump shooting ability. He’s a gifted athlete with explosiveness toward the hoop, but his shooting isn’t exceptional. He shot 42.9 percent from the field during his freshman year, although he did hit 40.5 percent from 3-point range. He’s got a little slower release, which could translate poorly to the quickness of NBA defenders. Also, for as good as he can be getting the rim, he’s not a polished post performer. His hook shots and his footwork both are in question. His free-throw shooting is a huge concern—he shot 42.2 percent as a freshman at Arizona from the line. Gordon isn’t an overly strong rebounder, and his overall strength will need to increase. And at his size, strength and skill set, an NBA team will need to decide if he will be a small forward or power forward in the league. That’s up for debate right now.
THEY SAID IT
“I see myself being a forward, I see myself as a basketball player. Obviously, you have to play a position in the NBA, but I’m going to be out there. I’ll be able to a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Post ups, knock down jumpers, hit 3, get by people. I feel very confident in myself that I can put 4 and 3 and wherever somebody wants to play me is fine.” — Arizona forward Aaron Gordon
WHAT HE CAN BRING TO THE WOLVES
Gordon is an athlete. He’s a player who can join an NBA team and add a leaping and athletic ability immediately. He’s known for being an unselfish player who is also a sound passer, and he’s got a lot of hustle in his game. His aggressiveness and intensity should help him be a solid defensive player at the next level, and he’s known for being a pretty solid team defender. Gordon also will be a player who can use his quick first step to his advantage and get to the rim. He’s going to give a team great intangibles on the court, including great character and a tireless work ethic.