3 reasons Aaron Gordon will prove doubters wrong after $92 million Nuggets extension
Aaron Gordon recently signed a long term contract ($92 million) with the Denver Nuggets, making it seem like he will be with the team for the long run. Gordon, who caught some flack after an underwhelming performance in the playoffs last season, was the perfect third piece and Jerami Grant replacement for the Nuggets — who looked like the best team in the western conference before they lost Jamal Murray to an ACL injury.
The good news for the Nuggets is that Murray is set to return this season and that could mean that Denver can make a push for the championship. A lot know what Nikola Jokic and Murray are capable of doing in the playoffs and that’s why the X factor here is really going to be Gordon. Here’s why the 25-year-old will prove doubters wrong this season:
Gordon is a star in his role
In fairness to Gordon, he had to carry the load along with Micheal Porter Jr. when Murray went down. To do his role and find a way to carry the scoring load with Murray’s absence is a tough task. But he showed flashes on how he can be a star in his role (as a wing) alongside Murray, Jokic and MPJ.
The Nuggets are 5-0 since getting Aaron Gordon.
Gordon is +69 in +/- during that span, the highest on the team.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 7, 2021
Remember, when Gordon first came to the Nuggets, the team went 5-0 and he was a +69 during that span—the highest on the team. He developed great chemistry with Jokic and was an impressive cutter that matched the Joker’s ability to pass the ball. He averaged 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game last season which are pretty good numbers for a third option.
Gordon is a lockdown defender
An underrated aspect about Gordon’s game is his ability on defense. He can lock down the opponent’s wing players, which are mostly superstars in the NBA. These wing players are the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, LeBron James, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant and the list goes on. It’s easy for Nuggets head coach Mike Malone to trust Gordon to take on the assignment of having to guard the opponent’s star player.
Five-man lineups with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Aaron Gordon, and Michael Porter Jr.:
127.1 offensive rating
108.7 defensive rating
18.5 net https://t.co/vQ4RJ6GVPS
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) September 14, 2021
This gives MPJ, Jokic, Murray and co. the leisure to focus more on offense. As good as MPJ is in scoring, his defense is still somewhat questionable. Gordon’s presence overall just gives the Nuggets another huge asset on the wing position.
Gordon’s second year run with the Nuggets should be better
In Gordon’s defense, he was traded in the middle of last season with limited time to get to know Malone’s system. And in the playoffs, he had to carry part of Murray’s scoring load while being stopped by the Phoenix Suns’ tenacious defense. He now has the opportunity to bounce back from this as he is now more acclimated with Malone’s system plus training camp and the longer pre-season will help.
It’s fair to argue that Gordon is perhaps overpaid for what he does but Denver had to do what they can to keep their core together. The same core that would have been considered championship contenders if only they were healthy. Well, the good news for Nuggets fans is that there’s still hope for this core as Murray is set to return sometime around next season.