Film Room: Assessment of Aaron Gordon in 2016-17

By Josh Cohen
April 17, 2017

The switch to power forward totally changed the outlook on Aaron Gordon, who re-emerged in the second half of the season as one of the league’s bright young stars. The conversion to the four allowed Gordon to out-perform opponents with his supreme athleticism, agility, quickness and persistence.

There were a few things that stood about Gordon when he played the four rather than the three. For one, he showed he’s far better as a roller rather than the ball handler in the pick-and-roll. AG shot 51.2 percent (58.5 effective FG percentage) when he was the screener and scoring target. In contrast, Gordon shot 34.7 percent (38.4 effective FG percentage) when he was the ball handler and attacker.

Watch Gordon roll inside and finish with an amazing one-handed alley-oop slam:

Watch Gordon pop back and knock down the wide open 3-pointer:

Gordon’s athleticism and zest was often engulfing for slower-footed, deliberate power forwards. He has an extremely quick first step and he has shifty movements.

Watch AG outwork Patrick Patterson and hit the step-back jumper:

Watch Gordon vanish from Domantas Sabonis’ sight and duck inside for the slam:

Gordon also excelled in transition. When the Magic shifted to a small-ball lineup and played faster, Gordon flew up and and down the court. He was the speediest Magic player on the floor (average speed was 4.39 MPH).

Watch Gordon sneak ahead of the field and dunk it down:

Gordon’s defense never wavered – particularly when he guarded the other team’s best perimeter player. He has tremendous instincts and anticipation and he’s a devoted defender. Check out these impressive stats when Gordon was the closest defender to these shooters:

Carmelo Anthony: 30.4 FG percent, 19.3 average shot distance
Paul George: 15.8 FG percent, 16.7 average shot distance
Kawhi Leonard: 38.5 FG percent, 17.4 average shot distance
Andrew Wiggins: 30.0 FG percent, 18.2 average shot distance
LeBron James: 14.9 average shot distance (LeBron’s average shot distance was 10.9 feet this season)

Watch Gordon play textbook defense on Anthony:

So, what does Gordon need to work on the most this offseason? It’s no secret that Gordon really struggled with his perimeter shot in 2016-17. AG shot just 11 percent from downtown in February and 23 percent in March. The good news is that he continues to work endlessly on it. Gordon actually shot nearly 42 percent from beyond the arc in April (six games).

Also, Gordon needs to be more balanced and alert when he pulls up off the dribble. He took a lot of contested shots (particularly when he played the three) and rushed others. Gordon has excellent court vision. He just needs to figure out when to rise and shoot or find an open teammate.

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