When the Sixers drafted Joel Embiid with the third pick in the Draft. There was buzz in the Amway Center. The destiny of drafting Dante Exum seemed inevitable.
Rob Hennigan went off the board. He saw something in Aaron Gordon that he liked. Something he had to have. With the way draft projections were going and the way the Magic’s needs were going, Gordon seemed like someone completely off the board.
Here was a guy whose athletic ability seemed unparalleled in this Draft. He was called a mini Blake Griffin. His jumper needed a lot of work though and he would probably not be an instant contributor or an instant All Star.
That tinge of disappointment swept through Amway Center though. It was hard not to notice. That instant All-Star was not coming.
Gordon though has one thing though that could very possibly change the minds of all doubters and prove Rob Hennigan right with this pick. Gordon is someone who will bust his butt and play basketball.
“I have a motor and my motor will continue to run,” Gordon said. “I am going to stick with the things that got me to this position and continue to sharpen my tools to become an excellent player. I am going to give it my all every single day.”
That is what he lives to do. It is why when other players in this vaunted freshman class opted not to travel to the Czech Republic for the FIBA U19 World Championship, Gordon happily volunteered, leading Team USA to a gold medal, leading the team in scoring and rebounding.
The Magic wanted a player with his work ethic and his desire and drive. That has been the kind of players they have gone for ever since Rob Hennigan came in. Gordon fits the team’s culture and ethos.
“We’re very excited to add Aaron to the team,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said. “As we went through the process, there were quite a few things that stood out about him that we really grew to like. Mainly his competitiveness, his desire to want to play team basketball and to truly impact the game in a variety of ways. Just his penchant to compete, his toughness, his athleticism as well are all things we feel are good ingredients for him to develop into a good player.”
Gordon’s athleticism stands out most of all. He is a high flyer who soars above the rim and can get to the basket and finish there. He is a leaper. He measured at the Combine with a 39.0 inch vertical leap. Where Gordon has to improve is on his jumper. He shot 49.5 percent from the floor and just 42.2 percent from the foul line.
He remains a raw prospect. The one thing everyone said about Gordon though is that he wants to get better and continue to improve.
He said he found a groove in his workout and had a good showing in front of the Magic brass. Gordon said he has already started working on improving his fundamentals. He said he works better on the perimeter.
The one thing the Magic will like, Gordon wants to get started.
“I want to get a playbook from Coach Vaughn,” Gordon said. “I need a playbook. I need to start going through plays. I would love to pick his mind and see what he wants to run. I know it is pretty far from the season and you have to figure out what your personnel is before you can coach accordingly, but if I could have a playbook or just kind of go through some of the schemes, that would be absolutely amazing and I can star to fit my tools accordingly to fit his style of play.”
That anticipation will not have to wait very long. The Summer League is starting pretty soon and he will get to show what he can do. And he is determined to show what he can do.
“They just believe in me,” Gordon said. “They see the potential in me. I know it’s there. They know it’s there. They are going to let me rock. Rob Hennigan I believe is going to be one of the best GMs in all of sports one day.
“[Tobias Harris, who was at the Draft and met Gordon] just said ‘Let’s get it.’”