I, like many of you, fist pumped mightily when the 76ers selected Joel Embiid. Dante Exum had fallen right into our laps. The Second Coming of Penny Hardaway. Point guard of the future. The obvious choice.
Nobody seems happy about this pick. Gordon isn't great on offense. He can't shoot. Dreadful from the FT line. But here's the thing: who, exactly, was available at this pick with real scoring chops?
Not Dante Exum. According to OPP's own Tyler Lashbrook, shooting is one of Exum's greatest weaknesses.He was also horrible at the FT line, and not great shooting off the dribble. He's basically a pure athlete, much like Gordon, but unproven against elite competition. There is real bust potential here.
Marcus Smart, another guard rumored to go at 4, also isn't much of a shooter. There simply was not a point guard available at 4 worth taking based on their scoring ability.
If not a point guard, the Magic needed a power forward. Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon were their options.
Vonleh, for whatever reason, slipped. I read there were character concerns. Orlando fans wanted scoring and, yes, Vonleh has a nice jump shot. But he shot an abysmal 59% at the rim (Gordon shot 73%). There are concerns about his defense and he turned the ball over a lot. Also, despite shooting 48% from beyond the arc, he only took 33 three point shots all year. Not much of a sample size.
Randle would have been a nice pick. He's a classic post player with a nice shooting touch who can grab rebounds. He has good size and strength but he isn't much of a rim protector.
Like I said, a nice pick. I think Randle would pay dividends right away, and could develop into a solid NBA power forward.
Gordon will pay dividends right away, too, on defense and in transition.
The two areas where Gordon needs to improve most, shooting and size, are the two young NBA prospects are most likely to improve. It's not unrealistic to expect Gordon to become a decent scorer and pack on some good weight. This is a hardworking, high basketball IQ kid. He's only 19 and he is arguably the best athlete in the draft.
I just don't think there was an obvious pick. No one perfectly fit our needs. The only elite scorer taken in the lottery went #2 to Milwaukee. Everyone else was either drafted on potential (Wiggins, Exum, Smart, Vonleh, Embiid) or existing skill sets that may prove limited at the next level (Randle, Stauskus, McDermott).
With this in mind, I think Aaron Gordon makes a lot more sense at #4 than I did last night. If he develops, and there's plenty of reason to believe he will, I think he'll make a bigger impact in the league than Vonleh or Randle.