Why is Aaron Gordon Not Improving?
The Magic have played just over a quarter of their games this season and so far they have been underwhelming, to say the least. They are three games under .500 and are second to last in the NBA in scoring. Even with the offseason additions of Ibaka, Biyombo, and Jeff Green, the Magic haven't taken a step forward from 2015-16. In fact, they have a worse record this season than they did through 23 games last year (12-11 in 2015-16). New head coach Frank Vogel has improved the team's defensive effort but that seems to be the only thing that's gotten better.
Before the season, Magic fans had expectations for the new additions to be vital to the team's success and for the younger players to show significant improvement. Specifically from Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon. While Payton has made small but noticeable improvements in terms of shooting percentage and turnovers, Gordon has given fans no reason to believe he's getting any better. His field goal and free throw percentages are sitting at career lows at the moment at 41% and 57% respectively and the shot selection associated with his FG% has been in a word, questionable. Those numbers are just unacceptable for any starting small forward, let alone a former #4 overall draft selection. Gordon is not a true SF and really seems uncomfortable at times but for some reason, Frank Vogel feels like that is where he should be. He's averaging 9.8 points per game and just 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists while playing 26 minutes a night. Gordon has struggled to stay in front of his matchups on defense as well as it has really just been a tough start to the season all around for the former first rounder.
With his struggles, I can't help but feel that he would be much more productive playing at power forward. So far in 2016, Gordon has played the four just 5% of the time as coach Vogel seems adamant about him being a true three. He's not as big as you would like a four to be but he is very strong and is at his best within 10 feet of the rim. In a league where the latest trend is playing small, the Magic are missing the opportunity to see if Gordon can be that hybrid type player like Draymond Green and Julius Randle. Albeit maybe he wouldn't be quite as productive but you get what I mean.
Obviously, one major problem with that suggestion is that they brought in Serge Ibaka to play the four so if they did decide to make that switch, he would have to come off the bench. That being said, I feel that he would make more of an impact as a rotational four than he has as the starting three. Gordon coming in with fresh legs and that athleticism could see him open more opportunities and fill the lanes during fast breaks. He can stop taking those awkward shots off of high screens and focus on high percentage shots inside. Gordon could really help a bench that is 27th in the NBA in shooting percentage (.410).
Whether the Magic decide to make a change or not, Aaron Gordon is going to need to find a rhythm and make more of an impact if he wants to be a part of this team's plans going forward. If not, Gordon and the Magic as a whole will be in for yet another postseasonp-less season and it will be decision time for the Magic and Aaron Gordon.