Gordon becoming more comfortable
Through two games of the Orlando Pro Summer League, Aaron Gordon has been the Orlando Magic's best player, showing off an improved jump shot and supreme confidence. While his team fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Gordon shined, finishing with game highs in points (21), rebounds (10) and steals, with three. Gordon's strong showing against the Thunder comes on the heels of an equally impressive 22-point, 18-rebound performance in the team's win Saturday.
Gordon, who missed much of his rookie season due to a broken bone in his foot, is still playing catch up, but his continual work is beginning to pay off. He's seeing his continued work on his jumper pay off, with shots falling from seemingly every spot on the floor. Gordon has also seen his ball handling improve, with the team allowing him to run more isolation plays throughout their first two contests.
When asked, Gordon he was "a lot more comfortable" while on the floor. "I feel like I can pretty much control what I want to do on offense," said the second year man.
Even though he's beginning to find a groove and get more comfortable out there, he still knows there are improvements to be made. "I know I have a lot of improvement to go, but it's one day at a time and stay focused," he said.
Gordon admitted that his confidence is much higher now, attributing that to having a year under his belt. "Last year it was a lot of being comfortable, being uncomfortable. You know, this year I'm a lot more comfortable, so it's a lot easier for me."
The athletic freak from Arizona has shown off areas of his game that were invisible all of last season. While he's more comfortable handling the ball on the perimeter, he still seems tentative when forced to his left side. Gordon also needs to work on not over dribbling and getting himself into pressure and places he can't make a play out of.
He's shown a lot of good things that should have Magic and basketball fans alike salivating. He still has some more work to do,but he's using Summer League as a stepping stone to a potentially big sophomore season.
For most teams and players, summer league is the time to try things. For the Magic, and Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja and Aaron Gordon, it's much more important as they begin to build chemistry for the season ahead.
With just a few practices and one game under their belt, the three appear to be comfortable with each other, seemingly knowing where the other will be before anyone else will. For Gordon and Payton, it should come as no surprise considering they've been playing together for portions of the last three years. With Hezonja just joining the fold, it's impressive to see the level of chemistry the three already have together.
Following the team's loss to the Thunder, Gordon talked about the chemistry the three have already, saying "We have a really good group of guys here, that know how to play the game, that are confident, that have got their swagger. If we stick together, we keep improving every day and focusing on the right things, we're going to be really, really good."
Gordon also went on to talk, more specifically, about his chemistry with Payton. "This is really, like,the third year I've been playing with Elfrid, so we had a little bit of chemistry coming in," he said. "Now, he's always looking for me, and, like me improving on finding my spots and when to go for ally-oops, he's improving on where to put the ball for me to dunk it."
Hezonja, the fifth pick in last months NBA Draft, said that the three are like brothers out there. He also added that he's "definitely" feeling more comfortable on the floor with Payton and Gordon along side him. "It's getting better every second," he said.
The trio of Gordon-Payton-Hezonja are going to play an intricate part in the Magic's continued rebuild. With all three being around the same age, they feel as though they can grow and take the team to the top together. Add in the likes of Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic, and the Magic have one of the most talented young cores int he entire NBA.
It's still going to take some time, but this experience at Summer League will undoubtedly help the chemistry, especially for the three youngsters as they grow in hopes of reaching their ultimate goal.
Odds and ends
Chris Singleton bounced back from a tough game on Saturday to help lead the White team to an impressive 85-76 victory over the Indiana Pacers. Singleton finished the game with a game-high tying 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks. He was active on both ends of the floor, and made a clear difference in the Magic's second half comeback.
Keith Appling once again put together a strong performance for the white team, finishing with 17 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists. While his assist numbers were down, he still played a strong game, and came up big with a few key buckets late. Appling also thrived driving to the rim, getting to the free throw line 11 times on the day.