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Coming of Age of Denver Nuggets Aaron Gordon Returns to Orlando

After Denver Nuggets welcome back Nikola Jokic and Bones Hyland To help fix their six-game losing streak on Monday, they will travel just a few hundred miles north to Orlando tonight. This will be the first time Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon back to where his NBA career began.

Gordon was the 4th overall pick in the 2014 draft for Orlando Magic. Although Gordon has shone in two Slam Dunk competitions during his time with Magic, he has never lived up to the superstar expectations that come with the sweepstakes.

Andrew Wiggins, now working on his own at the Golden State, is number one. Joel Embiid, also from the University of Kansas, is one round ahead of Gordon. Julius Randle, now with the Knicks, was taken in 7th place and Bulls’ Zach Lavine also went this draft (no. 13).

Denver Nuggets: D-Fense, D-Fense

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 20: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during a game against Aaron Gordon #50 of the Denver Nuggets during the 1st half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on October 20, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona .  (Photo by Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

Gordon was never an All-Star. However, he is greatly underrated. Some people only know him as a miner. That’s because he shines on the left side of the ball that doesn’t often produce highlight reels. His defense was always solid but he took it to another level with the Nuggets.

Gordon is often deployed on the opponent’s top scorer. He can keep up with smaller players in dribbling while also using his size to influence their shots. However, he also sticks to big men like Giannis Antetokoumpo.

Along with Gordon’s personal defense, the Nuggets’ defense has improved. Before a six-game losing streak in November, only two opponents had scored more than 100 points. In particular, Jokic, previously considered responsible for defense, has increased his defense this year, as Sean Carroll of Nugg Love reported.

A surprising situation? I think not.

Denver Nuggets: Veterans of the New Guard

Not only did Gordon bring defensive power to the Nuggets, but an all-round outburst that led to a career season in multiple divisions. No wonder Bones Hyland, (@Bizzy Bones11) rookie with loads of pomp, brought in Gordon (@ Double0AG).

With both Jokic and Bones sidelined through injury, the Nuggets are searching for answers. Although the Nuggets never won, they fought hard and the support team, including Gordon, gained valuable experience.

In his first game against the injured Jokic, Gordon set his new high with the Nuggs: 28 points shooting 10-12 FG. That went along with 9 rebounds, four assists and two saves.

Gordon has played in the league for eight years (Gordon only played a year at the University of Arizona), but at 26, he’s the same age as Jokic and is now part of the future for the Nuggets. The others who failed in Jokic and Bones’ absence – including Will Barton, Facundo Campazzo and Jeff Green – were all in their 30s. Gordon was in essence a veteran of the new bodyguard.

Denver Nuggets: The pinnacle of Gordon’s career after scene change

Gordon is averaging about 14 points per game, well above his career average of 12.8. His FG shot rate has been increasing each of the past three years and is the highest ever this year at 51.7%. That number is second only to Jokic for the Nuggets averaging over 10 minutes per game. Before this year, his peak was in 2015-2016 at 47.3%.

In Gordon’s final two seasons with Magic, he shot only 43.7% before claiming a trade by last year’s deadline. Gordon has only won two playoffs in over six years with the Magic. He eclipsed that total in the first playoff series he played with the Nuggets against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Gordon’s scoring (1,343) and shooting performance (.57) are also at career-high this season. He also now has a career high of 75.9% this year at the free-throw line, compared to a career average of 69.8%. And the efficiency rating of the player Gordon is, you guessed it, a career high – 16.56.

Changing the scene can sometimes be good for the player. Sometimes it can be very good. For Gordon, it looks great. And the team’s third tallest player with just under $16.5 million is making his money.

Denver Nuggets: Gordon’s Magic Revenge Matchup

When Gordon first played Magic with Nuggest last April at the Ball Arena, the Nuggets won 119-109. Unsurprisingly that’s Gordon’s high-scoring game against the Nuggets until this November. He scored 24 points on 10-13 FG, including 7 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

With Bones and Austin Rivers now on the COVID protocol, Gordon and others in the rotation will have an extra minute.

We’ll see if Gordon delivers the same numbers he did with the Magic last season, but his first NBA home comeback will ignite an already intense player.

https://nugglove.com/2021/12/01/coming-age-aaron-gordon-return-orlando/ Coming of Age of Denver Nuggets Aaron Gordon Returns to Orlando

JACLYN DIAZ

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