Nuggets

Gordon Reaching Mile-High Heights with Nuggets

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Aaron Gordon has always been known as a dunker, extraordinary leaper and freak athlete.

Yet he is showing even more than that in Denver.

Gordon now has an all-around game in the Mile High City. Not many people realize it, however, as much of the talk around the Nuggets centers on back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokić.

Gordon Overshadowed But Pivotal for Nuggets

Gordon deserves recognition for becoming an indispensable piece in Denver.

The nine-year veteran averages 16.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game this season but is doing it more efficiently than ever. Gordon is shooting 58% from the floor, 37% from three-point land, and his effective field-goal percentage is north of 62%.

Oh, and he still can throw down vicious dunks.

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Gordon limits his three-point attempts (just 2.6 per game) and plays seamlessly with Jokić. The Joker’s court vision and passing ability maximizes Gordon’s off-ball cutting. Playing with Jokić helps, but Gordon has been receptive and fits phenomenally into Michael Malone’s offense, as he relayed to The Athletic in January.

“…What I’ve loved about watching Aaron is he hasn’t fought the fact that he’s playing next to Nikola Jokić,” Malone stated. “There hasn’t been dueling egos, ‘I’m great, too, I got to show you what I can do.”

Gordon’s been so good that he leads the NBA in net rating and is third in offensive rating behind only Gary Payton II and his MVP teammate, Jokić. Nearly all of the three-and-four lineup advanced stats have Gordon-Jokić involved near the top.

Despite his career year, Gordon remains underrated, and there’s is little chatter about his impact on the Nuggets.

But Malone certainly isn’t taking him for granted.

Coach Stumped For Gordon’s All-Star Case

While Gordon wasn’t selected as an All-Star, Malone sure views him as one. Malone called Gordon not being picked for the All-Star Game a ‘travesty.’

Gordon even tried to say he’d compete in the dunk contest if selected for the All-Star Game, despite stating after a controversial loss to Zach LaVine in the 2016 competition that he wouldn’t participate again.

The 27-year-old has a case. Not only is he and the team having a great offensive season, but Denver also tasks Gordon with guarding the opponent’s best offensive wing.

In the West, that’s LeBron James one night and Kawhi Leonard the next.

Gordon’s Growth in Mile High

Gordon never shot 50% from the floor in a season in seven campaigns in Orlando but hasn’t shot below that mark in Denver. His 58% shooting from the field and 64% from inside the arc by far career bests.

Of the 127 eligible players averaging at least 10.0 field-goal attempts per game, only 12 shoot better than 58% overall. The stretch four also does work on the glass and contributes a career-best 2.4 offensive rebounds per game.

Career Year has Nuggets Thinking Rings

The $21 million man is simply superb and contributes consistently. Gordon scored in double digits in his last 38 of 40 games played. One of those single digit-games was his first contest back from a rib injury. In the other, he logged a mere 22 minutes.

Most fail to notice Gordon’s efficient season. The talk regarding Denver is never around Gordon. With him, Jokić, Jamal Murray and a healthy Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets desire a trip to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. They sit atop the Western Conference thanks to the team gelling and playing smoothly around Jokić.

Denver had been rolling and can afford their recent skid. They have experienced strong regular seasons before, but with Gordon and a refreshed supporting cast, the Nuggets now crave postseason success.

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About Mitchell Skurzewski

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