2014 NBA Draft: Aaron Gordon brings versatility with a major flaw

Donald Miralle

Aaron Gordon brings a number of things so many NBA Draft prospects don't in his willingness to defend multiple positions and with his passing ability. That all comes with a major flaw.

Aaron Gordon has always been viewed as a sure-fire NBA prospect because of his athleticism, but it's what he does with his physical attributes that could make him a dynamic professional. Through seven Pac-12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament games, Gordon averaged 12.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, a sign of his versatility that is even more finely tuned on the defensive end. But he comes with one major flaw.

Strengths

Athleticism: Gordon has a quick second and third jump, can run the floor like a gazelle and leap with them best of them. At 6-foot-9 in shoes and 220 pounds, he will be capable of hanging with small forwards in the NBA immediately, and as the youngest player in the draft could still add a bit of weight down the line, allowing him to play the power forward spot more. Gordon recorded a 39-inch vertical at the draft combine, which was expected. What wasn't expected was that he'd lead all players with a 2.76 second shuttle, which is telling of his lateral quickness that helped him switch onto point guards -- and stay in front of the speediest of them, including ASU's Jahii Carson -- at the college level.


Unselfishness: Gordon's greatest strength and reason for his highly-regarded draft stock lies in his passing ability. He worked very well as an interior passer by playing with true center Kaleb Tarczewski and power forward Brandon Ashley (before Ashley was injured) in his only season at Arizona. That could translate to the NBA well, but so will his ability to rebound and lead the break. His ball handling is fit to do so.

Motor: Sometimes it's an overused term, but Gordon's motor has made him one of the better rebounders in the 2014 draft and also an elite defender both on the ball and off. While he could use improvement as a defensive rebounder with added size, Gordon was elite on the offensive glass. It's why many project him to be similar to multiple-time All-Star Shawn Marion.

Character: The Arizona product is considered a team-first player with high character. He was almost forced to become a playmaker on a Wildcats' team that needed more assertiveness, especially in the postseason. He was named USA Basketball's Male Athlete of the Year in 2013.

Weaknesses

Foul shooting: The most obvious knock on Gordon was his shot, especially at the foul stripe. The forward hit an abysmal 42 percent from the line despite reportedly being a near-80-percent shooter in practice -- the mental aspect of the percentage might be bigger than his shooting mechanics. Gordon rarely took perimeter shots but did decently by knocking down 36 percent from three-point range. He has since retooled his jumper, but the results have yet to be seen.

Scoring mentality: Perhaps it's partially connected to his lack of confidence in his shooting, but Gordon struggled to even look for his shot as opponents in Pac-12 play quite literally played Gordon from the painted area, even if he was standing at the three-point line. Gordon's lack of moves on drives and his lack of creativeness in his scoring ability could be seen as a major flaw. He lacks post moves and aside from facing up and jumping over opponents does not have the ability or the feel to score in any way other than spotting up. Though Gordon is a better ball handler in the full court than many give him credit for, he lacks a feel for pick-and-roll situations, failing to pull up when the shot is there or drive when a lane opens up.

Post defense: Though it was hardly a problem in college, Gordon probably won't be immediately able to match up with power forwards at the NBA level due to his size. He does have the build to fill out to fit more into the Blake Griffin comparison that many peg him into.

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