Film Room: Inside Aaron Gordon's Defense

By Josh Cohen
Sept. 20, 2016

On-the-Ball Defense

Aaron Gordon has all the tools to be an elite on-the-ball defender. He has terrific footwork, anticipation, length and instincts. He fights over screens, closes out on the perimeter and contests shots. Watch his defense on Reggie Jackson here:

Off-Ball Defense

Gordon is one of the most active and resolute defenders in the NBA. He’s extremely alert of what his opponents are running and he recovers well. Watch how he smothers Kevin Durant and then slides over to swipe the ball away from Dion Waiters here:

Transition Defense

Gordon rarely surrenders on plays. He races back in transition and chases down opponents. He has really good hands, which helps him deflect or even intercept passes. Watch him deny John Wall from slipping a pass into Kris Humphries on the run here:


Gordon is an excellent rebounder. He has the unique ability to grab rebounds that aren’t in his “rebounding zone.” In other words, he finds a way to track down missed shots that are nowhere near his defender. He’s more of an athletic rebounder rather than a box out rebounder (skies high for boards). Gordon also tends to push the ball right after getting a rebound. Watch him deny Willie Cauley-Stein at the rim, grasp the ball and fly down the floor here:

Rim Protection

Gordon does a really good job sliding over from the weak side to alter shots. He also does a good job forcing his opponent to drive to their weaker side. Watch Gordon force Paul Millsap to his left and then use his length to disrupt Millsap’s layup attempt here:

Post-Up Defense

While he struggled guarding larger, stronger fours in the post last season, Gordon excelled defending threes in the post. He uses his lower extremities well to keep opponents out of the lane. Watch Gordon prevent LeBron James from backing him down here: