The “Aaron Gordon at the three” experiment has gone on for long enough. If the Orlando Magic want to keep their hope of having a star alive, they need to make a change immediately.
The Orlando Magic are in a precarious situation as they embark on this five-game road trip.
The newly acquired talent are not gelling with the guys that were on the roster last season. The pieces on this roster do not seem to fit. Players seem to be in the wrong spots. The Magic need to get the most out of their players.
Article continues below ...
If this is the case, it is time to mold Aaron Gordon into what he is best suited for, being a power forward.
Orlando does not look bound for the postseason unless things drastically change. Perhaps Tuesday’s win over the San Antonio Spurs provides a glimmer of hope. Plenty still needs to change.
Gordon just came off of a zero-point, 0-for-12 outing against the Milwaukee Bucks. In his worst game of his career, it is apparent head coach Frank Vogel is putting Gordon in a position where he simply cannot succeed.
When combining Gordon’s skill set and the rest of the Orlando roster, the only move to be made to help him develop is a move to the power forward position permanently.
A move like this could allow Gordon to gain confidence as he will be more likely to use his strengths as a player. His athleticism and his speed are much rarer at the power forward position than at small forward, where his size and speed are more of a hindrance. Not to mention his poor shot.
Currently, he is sitting in no man’s land out on the perimeter. His skills being wasted in favor of an occasional three-point shot.
Through the first 15 or so games of this season, it is apparent Gordon is not an outside player on offense. He has an ineffective jump shot (a career-worst 37.6 percent from the floor overall), and he is not very good at being a pick-and-roll ball handler (0.33 points per possession).
Add on to the fact he still does not have the ability to create his own shot off the dribble consistently, and Gordon has not fully developed the skills needed to succeed as a full-time perimeter player.
So far this season, Gordon is shooting 27.5 percent from behind the arc on 5.6 attempts per 100 possessions. These are not the numbers a team wants out of a wing player. Especially in today’s NBA where “three-and-D” wing players are all the rage.
When he is not setting up for a jump shot, Gordon has the ball in his hands out on the perimeter, where the only thing he can do well is pass to Evan Fournier or Elfrid Payton and see if they can initiate the offense.
In the few scenarios, he has tried to run pick and roll plays, he has not been effective.
Gordon is shooting 38%. He's 5-of-24 as the ball-handler on the PNR. He needs, at bare minimum, real time at PF in core ORL lineups.
The more Gordon sits out on the perimeter, the worse it is going to get for him and Orlando’s offense. The Magic’s offense is currently last in the league in field goal percentage and second to last in points per game. Despite Tuesday’s breakthrough — both for the Magic and for Gordon, who scored 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting — Gordon is still struggling to get to the basket and is relying heavily on his still-developing jumper.
The Magic have an odd roster to say the least. They have bigs with the ability to shoot, but have a guard and a starting wing who do not have an outside shot. That is as backwards as it gets in the NBA.
If Gordon moves to the four, it could allow the Magic to put another shooter out on the wing to open up the floor for a slasher like Elfrid Payton and Evan Fournier on his patented pick and rolls. Gordon’s move to the 3 seemingly was a sacrifice of the Magic’s logjam in the perimeter.
One of the problems the Magic have had for years was opening up space down low. Defenses have crowded the lane since Dwight Howard left. Moving Gordon could ease things up on offense.
Gordon’s performance on the offensive end can be attributed to his developing game. Moving him to the 3 may be an experiment worth returning to someday. But, for the most part, Orlando has refused to cater to his strengths and his confidence could start to take a hit.
This is the last thing Orlando needs as they are trying to scratch and claw their way back into relevancy.
Defensively, there should not be a major problem with Gordon moving to the four. He can use his athleticism to slow down the bigger and stronger players. As was the case last season as Gordon was able to fair well against some very talented frontcourt players.
It is obvious Gordon is more suited to match up against Kawhi Leonard rather than a LaMarcus Aldridge. And the Magic can still create lineups where Gordon plays on the perimeter defensively.
Still, there is hope Gordon can cover the taller players well enough because of the shot blocking behind him with Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka.
Gordon, again, has been forced to the 3 largely because of the Magic’s roster construction. To appease recent acquisitions Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo and veteran stalwart Nikola Vucevic, there are simply not enough minutes for Gordon at the 4.
Moving Gordon to the 4 will force one of the big men out of the spotlight. That is just a necessary risk the Magic will have to take if they are banking on Gordon. Which they should.
Orlando has clearly invested much of its future in the former fourth overall pick. The team has to get the most out of him.
More than anything, a move to the 4 could help him develop into the player many think he has the ability to be. With his freakish athletic ability and potential, it is time for Orlando to put all of their eggs in one basket. It is time for Aaron Gordon to move to the four.