Film Room: Aaron Gordon's Exceptional Defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

By Josh CohenJan. 21, 2017

Aaron Gordon’s superb defensive abilities have been documented several times this season on this web site. It just keeps getting better, too.

Gordon’s masterful defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo (and Jabari Parker in limited opportunities) was one of the reasons the Magic battered the Bucks on Friday.

AG has all the physical tools to be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate (this season and for years to come). He’s extremely athletic and agile (hard for foes to escape him off the dribble). He’s very aware and attentive to inbound screens. He has the length and tenacity to annoy opponents and disrupt shots. He also has phenomenal anticipation and timing.

Most important, though, is Gordon’s devotion to defense. He wants to be DPOY and will do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal. Even when his offense is shaky, Gordon commits to playing passionate defense. We’ve seen him lockdown guys like James Harden, Carmelo Anthony, Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Gordon Hayward, Paul George and Antetokounmpo in recent games.

Here are some impressive numbers when AG is the closest defender this season:

Carmelo Anthony: 17 shots, 29.4 percent shooting, 19 feet average shot distance
Gordon Hayward: 6 shots, 33 percent shooting, 18 feet average shot distance
James Harden: 6 shots, 19.5 feet average shot distance
Paul George: 8 shots, 0 percent shooting, 17.4 feet average shot distance
Damian Lillard: 5 shots, 0 percent shooting, 16.2 feet average shot distance

Let’s take a look at a few outstanding defensive possessions from Friday’s win over the Bucks.

On this play, Gordon plays tight, physical defense on Antetokounmpo. He slides over a John Henson ball screen and never allows Antetokounmpo any space to take a reasonably good shot (he ends up air-balling a fadeaway). WATCH:

Gordon has a high basketball IQ and knows each opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. On this possession, AG stays glued to Antetokounmpo and also prevents a backdoor cut. Malcolm Brogdon and Antetokounmpo are unable to glide toward the basket because of Gordon’s placement on the floor. WATCH:

Gordon is willing to sacrifice his body. On this play, he races back as the Bucks accelerate down the floor and takes the charge. Antetokounmpo fouled out on this call. WATCH: