Unfortunately PointGuardU.com wouldn’t pay me for a one word article, but it really is that simple. Aaron Gordon does not need another year of college basketball.
Would he be a much better player with an extra year of seasoning? Certainly. But that doesn’t mean he should forgo a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Let’s get something out of the way first. Call it a freshman wall, call it progressive fatigue, call it whatever you want. Lately Gordon hasn’t been playing as well as he can, and that’s something we’re not used to seeing.
It starts from the free throw line, where Gordon’s struggles are well documented. But with nothing fundamentally wrong with his form, that’s an issue that won’t last forever. More troubling has been his shooting from anywhere outside the paint.
Gordon’s season field goal percentage is a solid 47.4% on 10 attempts per game, especially when you consider that he’s spent most of his time at the small forward position. But in conference play, his efficiency has plummeted to 44.7% field goal shooting on 10.3 attempts. He’s also 1 of 10 on three point attempts over that 12 game span.
Even more troubling is that Gordon’s true shooting percentage (which accounts for 2 point, 3 point, and free throw attempts) is dead last for Arizona’s rotation players at 48%, which falls well below the mark for effective scorers. By comparison, Kaleb Tarczewski leads the team with a true shooting percentage of 61%, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is 5th among rotation players at 52.9%.
As a result, defenses sag way off him and help neutralize Arizona’s talent down low. It’s a problem that has tightened up the Wildcat offense and lowered scoring totals.
Of course, a lot of that has to do with Brandon Ashley’s season-ending injury, which Arizona is still learning to cope with. But a lot of it has to do with Gordon’s inability to stretch defenses from the power forward spot.
It’s a major flaw in his game, and it’s a reminder that he’s not a complete player despite coming to Arizona with as much hype as possibly any recruit in school history.
But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t go pro if a lottery pick awaits him.
Here’s what some of you who disagree need to understand: it’s not about Gordon’s skill level, or if he’s “ready.” The decision to enter the NBA Draft early is based on one thing, and one thing alone: if they want you.
And the NBA wants Gordon.
Like I said before, yes, he could become a much better player by staying at Arizona a second year. But if an NBA team offers you a pick in the lottery, it would be risky to put your lifelong dream on hold to accomplish essentially the same thing the next year.
Not to mention, that’s a year’s worth of potential earnings lost, and another year to wait before Gordon could get the much more lucrative second contract of his career.
In the world of sports, nothing is guaranteed. If Ashley’s heart-breaking injury taught us anything, it’s how quickly everything can be taken away from you as a player.
That’s not to say Gordon shouldn’t choose another year of college basketball for fear of injury. It’s just to posit that a lottery pick may not be still be on the table a year from now, due to any number of potential reasons.
When you understand that sobering reality, Gordon’s decision becomes a lot clearer.