Even before the ping-pong balls are drawn, there have been a lot of mock drafts recently going around the media on where the Celtics will end up in the lottery and who they will select. According to a recent mock draft from ESPN’s Chad Ford, the Boston Celtics will select Arizona power forward Aaron Gordon with their 5th overall pick in this summers draft. Ford feels that the Celtics would love to get their hands on Joel Embiid if they land in a good enough position to draft him, but thinks that Gordon has the unique skill set to really help fit Boston’s needs. I like what Gordon brings to the table, but I think drafting him will only add more complications to the lingering logjam at the power forward position . He has a nice skill set that could really give the Celtics a lift next season in hopes of getting back to the playoffs. Allow me to explain how he can help the Celtics if he is drafted here.
Aaron Gordon is a real gifted passer for someone who played power forward in his lone season at Arizona and is projected to play either the small or power forward positions in the NBA. During Arizona’s postseason, Gordon’s ball distribution was very noticeable as he dished out eight assists in the PAC-12 title game against UCLA and six assists in the NCAA Tourney game against Gonzaga. What makes his passing ability noteworthy is that he is very patient and won’t just throw a pass just to make a pass, he just finds the open man for good looks to the basket. He’s even more dangerous on the open floor as he can draw attention towards him as he’s driving to the hoop and finds another open man for an easy layup or small jumpshot. His passing game is very similar to Rajon Rondo, except he would be a freakishly tall Rondo.
Aaron Gordon’s ability to move without the ball is arguably one of his best qualities as a player and some scouts have noted that he could become the next Blake Griffin. During March Madness, Gordon was often breaking free from his defenders and catching alley-oops like Griffin has. Gordon can see the floor very well without the ball and can make good judgement calls on popping out to the wing for an open shot or just going to the hoop for an easy layup or dunk. His transition without the ball is exceptional as he just runs the floor very well leading a strong attack on the fast break.
Aaron Gordon has been a beast this season on the boards, specifically on the offensive glass. Gordon averaged 9.9 rebounds per game this season and was 2nd in the PAC-12 with 96 offensive rebounds. What makes his rebounding unique is that he can time his jumps well and is well aware of his surroundings. If he has enough room to unleash his explosiveness to rise above his opponents, forget it because that rebound is automatic to him.
His awareness really raises his ability to play defense as a whole as well. Gordon has shown the ability to play defense like an NBA veteran already both as an on-ball stopper and a weak side helper. He does a really good job of cutting off attackers from going straight to the hoop and forcing them to take ill-advised jump shots. His great court vision recognizes if his teammates need help on the weak side and jumps right at his opponents to block shots. His great defensive IQ will go a long way in the NBA.
My positive outlook on Aaron Gordon isn’t overshadowing his flaws as he does have a lot of improvements to make to have a successful NBA career. Gordon shot 42 percent from the free-throw line this season at Arizona and I personally can do without a “Hack-A-Gordon” on the Celtics. He doesn’t have a great history of being a shot creator and the Celtics will need someone that can create his own shots on a regular basis.
It’s hard to tell how quickly Aaron Gordon will adapt to the NBA and if he will even have any All-Star appearances, but a lot of NBA scouts can see a lot of good qualities in the young kid from Arizona and how well he can contribute to a team. After studying more of Aaron Gordon’s game, I do feel that he can make an impact in the NBA and could go really high in the draft if his trip to the combine is a success. However, I don’t feel that Gordon is the type of player the Celtics need at this time because of other issues they will need to address first.