NBA Position: PF
General Information: 18 year old freshman, played at Arizona. From San Jose, California.
Measurables: 6'8.75", 225 lbs, 6'11.75″ wingspan, 8'9″ standing reach
2013-14 Season Statistics: 12.4 PPG 8.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 BPG, .9 SPG, 1.4 TOPG (31.2 minutes per contest) - 49.5% FG, 42.2% FT, 35.6% 3FG, 50.3% TS
Summary: An elite athlete who prides himself on his defensive abilities, Gordon has a great feel for the game despite the fact that he's the youngest player likely to be drafted. His offensive game is raw, and he doesn't have the exceptional size or length to play the Power Forward spot yet. He won't produce immediate results, but he's shown the potential to be a near-elite defender and he has a work ethic that matches anyone in his draft class.
Offensive Breakdown: Gordon is most dangerous offensively in transition. He runs the floor extremely well for a Power Forward, and his athleticism and body control led to many fantastic finishes. He also makes good decisions in transition and showed good handles and passing instincts; he won't be a black hole on fast breaks.
His post skills are solid when he matched up against players his own size, and his athleticism will give him an advantage against most defenders, but he will struggle to post up against NBA big men who will outweigh him by 20-30 pounds. He also doesn't have the best handling skills in the low post, and doesn't have the great offensive awareness to know what to do when a double team comes his way. Until he either packs on the pounds or fixes his jumpshot, he won't be a challenge for defenders.
His jumpshot is a big work in progress. He doesn't have the prettiest looking shot, but there were times where he showed good form; he just has no consistency in his motion. There were plenty of times where he visibly hesitated during the shot, and my armchair scout's opinion is that some of his issues are mental. That's certainly true for his free throw shooting, where he shot a dismal 42.2%. He needs extensive work on consistency in his motion, and until he forms that consistency and hits a 60% clip he'll risk being "hack-a-Gordon"ed. Wherever he ends up, he's hoping that team has a good shooting Coach to help with his consistency and mechanical issues.
Defensive Breakdown: Once Gordon adds the necessary muscle and grows used to guarding guys bigger than he is, he has the potential to be a fantastic defender. He's got good footwork and keeps himself between his opponent and the basket, and he's quick enough that there won't be many players who can juke him and get around him. He tries as hard as any freshman I've seen on the defensive end, and given his psychical gifts, that potential cannot be undersold.
With his athleticism and quick feet, Gordon is also threat on the perimeter, even against small forwards and shooting guards. He's an instinctual defender and has great body control to cut off the basket. With his 7'0 wingspan and elite verticality, he's blocking threat to anyone he'll face on the perimeter. He fell for too many shot-fakes, but nearly every rookie has that issue.
Arizona was one of the best defensive teams in the country last year, and Gordon was a huge reason why; he's a good help defender, quick to move when he sees a teammate get beaten. He'll need to continue to improve his awareness to react quicker as he faces faster opponents, but his long arms and athleticism will make him an imposing threat to anyone with the basketball. He's not a great slot blocker yet, but the potential is there once he gets the timing down.
He isn't the ideal height for the position, but he's the same height as pure Power Forward Julius Randle and only a tad shorter then Blake Griffin. The biggest concern is his muscle mass-he's a full tweener at this stage in his development.
Gordon is a good rebounder, especially on the offensive end (10.4% rebounding rate offensively). He's good at keeping himself between the ball and his opponent, but again his lack of strength will limit him in the NBA. His insane verticality (39 inch max verticality) will help, but he won't become a great rebounder until he bulks up.
Intangibles: Gordon did all the little things for Arizona last season that, to quote the old phrase, "don't show up on the stat sheets". He dove for the loose balls, defended every position, and hustled harder than anyone on the floor. He has an excellent work ethic, and there have been no red flags from his time at Arizona.
An apt comparison for Gordon is Shawn Marion; Gordon might never average 21 points a game as Marion did, but he has a Maxtrix-like ability to contribute at every area on the floor. A more modern comparison might be Nicolas Batum; not because they share a similar playing style (Gordon isn't close to Batum shooting-wise), but for career path. Batum took two years of inconsistent play before becoming the best glue player in the league.
Fit with Sacramento: Gordon's defensive tenacity would be a great fit with the Kings, and once he bulks up to match up with NBA big men, he'd form a fantastic duo with DeMarcus Cousins. With Gordon's athleticism, quickness and defensive IQ, he will become a force on the defensive end-he hasn't shown great success as a shot-blocker yet, but if he works on his timing he has the verticality and the attitude to become the defensive shot-blocker that DeMarcus has long asked for.
His raw offensive game will keep him limited in the immediate future, and he wouldn't offer the Kings that significant playoff boost that the organization is looking for. Among the forecasted top 10 picks, Gordon is arguably the rawest aside from Noah Vonleh. He gives full effort offensively and will be a pest for defenders with his athleticism, but if they can keep him away from the basket and dare him to shoot, he won't have immediate success. He will need a year or two of work with the Coaching staff to fix the hesitations in his shot (as well as multiple years of weight training).
Gordon is my favorite prospect in the draft despite his faults. He's an elite athlete, and it's rare to see a young player who'd say he loves defense as much as he does scoring (hat tip for the quote goes to Josh Robbins from the Orlando Sentinel). Given time to refine his offensive game, I believe Gordon will be one of the best players in this class; not a superstar, but a top tier role player who will really help his team move up the NBA latter. He'll have a rough rookie season, but his defensive abilities and basketball IQ would be a great addition to Sacramento.