All month we've been breaking down the top draft picks in the 2014 NBA draft, and their potential fit with the Celtics. Today we'll be talking about Aaron Gordon, perhaps the name we've heard linked to the Celtics more than anyone else.
Strengths: Gordon is an amazing athlete who will be among the most athletic power forwards in the NBA the second he enters the league. He has a 39" vertical and runs the floor like a gazelle, often times ending up on the finishing end of some spectacular alley-oops.
He's also one of the most dynamic defensive players in the draft. His wingspan is 7' and he can guard both small and power forwards, offering NBA teams a lot of defensive versatility. He has been compared some to Blake Griffin, but I think that's unfair. His real comparison is a less polished version of Shawn Marion, a guy who can guard several positions, run the floor and grab rebounds.
And speaking of rebounds, Gordon is a very good rebounder, grabbing 10 per 36-minutes at Arizona as a Freshman.
Gordon also gets high marks for his basketball IQ and is a glue guy, willing to take a less glamorous role on a team and do the grimy work. Weaknesses:Despite the fact that he shot 55% on 2s and 36% on 3s (both solid numbers), Gordon has some kind of mental block at the free throw line. His 42% mark is one of the worst in college basketball history among non-centers, and while he has reportedly made a lot of progress this spring/summer at the line, until we see it in a game, there will be doubts.
Gordon also has absolutely no post game to speak of, a huge issue if you're going to play power forward in the NBA (and why I think he may be a better fit at small forward). At only 18 years old, this can be developed, but he's entering the league with no go to moves. That is not good.
And finally there's the thought that he's a "tweener" -- a small forward that can't shoot, and a power forward that can't post up. But this is 2014, and when you have a dynamic defensive skill-set and outrageous athleticism, that label really doesn't fit so much. Fit with the Celtics: If the Celtics land Gordon, it will be with the sixth pick in the draft. Personally I'd rather see them grab Dante Exum (on the off chance he's there), Marcus Smart or Noah Vonleh, but Gordon is certainly in play.
If (big if) he can become a 60-70% free throw shooter and becomes competent on the block, Gordon could be an All-Star. But if he can't he'll be nothing more than an energy role player that locks down on defense but needs to be hidden at the end of close games because of his woeful free throw shooting and inability to create his own offense.
I like Gordon, but I'd like him a hell of a lot more in the late lottery than I do at #6.
Here's Gordon's video scouting report from the awesome folks at Draft Express.