Aaron Gordon's Strengths & Top Performances in 2019-20 Before Hiatus

by Josh Cohen

Posting Up

Since coming into the NBA in 2014, Aaron Gordon has made incremental progress each year with his post-up game. Last season, the Orlando Magic’s 6-foot-8, 235-pounder shot 42 percent when posting up a defender. This season, through 58 games, he has shot 45.7 percent. Also, he’s committing fewer turnovers when posting up – just 6.3 percent of the time this year compared to 9.2 percent in 2018-19.

Taking advantage of mismatches is something the 24-year-old has gotten much better at as well. Even more impressive, though, is his ability to make sharp passes while backing down defenders. Gordon’s teammates, per Second Spectrum tracking data, have made 19 of their 40 shot attempts (47.5 percent) when he passes directly to them from the post.

Passing

On the subject of passing, this is the area the San Jose native has improved the most at this season. In the last seven games before the league’s stoppage, Gordon was averaging 7.3 assists per game – tied for 14th best in the entire NBA and second among forwards (LeBron James No. 1). During this stretch, he recorded his first career triple-double – a 17-point, 11-rebound and 12-assist masterpiece against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 28.

Pace

From the start of the season until Feb. 9, the Magic ranked 28th in the league in pace of play, averaging 98.11 possessions per 48 minutes. After Feb. 9, the Magic climbed to 12th in pace with 101.29 possessions. Gordon was a big reason for that. In that time, only the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal averaged more miles covered than the Magic’s versatile forward among players who appeared in at least seven games.

What makes the Magic unique is that a number of their players are excellent at grabbing and going (in other words, gathering a rebound and then pushing the ball up the floor themselves). Gordon is among the best at it among forwards. Jonathan Isaac and Wes Iwundu also excel at this.

Top 5 Performances

#5 Nov. 13 vs. Sixers

Gordon had a terrific all-around game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Not only did he flirt with a triple-double, finishing with 18 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, he also was stifling defensively, particularly against Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris.

#4 Feb. 12 vs. Pistons

Just a few days before his extraordinary dunk contest performance in Chicago during All-Star Weekend, Gordon put on a show in front of the home supporters, recording 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in Orlando’s thrilling overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons.

#3 Dec. 4 vs. Suns

Gordon, who helped the Magic beat the Phoenix Suns with 32 points, five rebounds and five assists, became the first NBA player ever to shoot at least 85 percent from the field on at least 15 shot attempts while taking and making five 3-pointers. It was the second time in his career he scored at least 30 while going a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond the arc.

#2 Feb. 28 vs. Timberwolves

Gordon notched his first career triple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Magic scored a season-high 136 points that night in the win.

#1 Feb. 24 at Nets

An argument could be made that Gordon’s best performance of his career came on this night against the Brooklyn Nets. Not only did he fill up the stat sheet with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, his clutch block on Caris LeVert in the closing seconds helped Orlando secure a victory over Brooklyn.

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