Aaron Gordon, who turns 20 years old on Wednesday, is the second youngest non-rookie player in the NBA. His youth certainly played a role in the Orlando Magic selecting him #4 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, adding him to the franchise’s young, developing core.
Now that he enters his second year of professional basketball, Gordon will see an expanded role and take another step forward in his development.
After dominating the NBA Summer League this offseason, Gordon is pushing for a starting position and might be the favorite to take over at power forward next season (unseating former Wildcat Channing Frye). Putting up over 20 points and 11 rebounds this summer, Gordon has earned the trust of the Magic coaching staff and they may be ready to give him more responsibility as a sophomore.
Gordon will need to develop a rapport with starting center and former USC Trojan Nikola Vucevic, who has become one of the best rebounders and most consistent post players in the NBA. In order to do that, Gordon will need to show that he can stretch the floor with his shooting so that Vucevic has room to operate down low.
Luckily, that’s been one of the most improved aspects of Gordon’s game. His confidence shooting the long range shot is at an all time high, showing an increased comfort level on the perimeter.
And Gordon has also shown flashes of improved ball handling, allowing him to use his athleticism in space. In his rookie season, Gordon often struggled when putting the ball on the floor. But this summer he began to show the ability to turn the corner, and his entire offensive game benefitted because of it.
One thing that will work in his favor is Orlando’s dynamic back court. Emerging star Victor Oladipo commands a lot of defensive attention, and point guard Elfrid Payton is an advanced passer who has developed good chemistry with Gordon.
Oladipo, Vucevic, Payton, and Gordon make up the core of Orlando’s future. If he can settle into a role that complements those players, Gordon will surely earn extra playing time next year as the Magic look to develop their young talent as soon as possible.