Exactly one week ago today, I was reading an article that quoted ESPN’s Chris Ford as saying that the Boston Celtics are “fans of” forward Aaron Gordon of the Arizona Wildcats. Here is the full quotation:
The Celtics like Parker, Wiggins and Embiid a lot. But they are also fans of Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, who is one of the best athletes in the draft. He’s not as polished offensively, but he’s one of those players who does a little bit of everything and impacts the game on both ends of the floor.
Now, I’m a University of Kentucky fan, so I have been paying close attention to their NBA-hopefuls this season, and must admit to not having watched a great deal of Arizona Wildcats games this year. (And by “not having watched a great deal” I actually mean “I have not watched even one minute of a game featuring the Arizona Wildcats this season.” Just so you know.) However, after reading that Gordon could possibly one of the four NBA prospects the Celtics have the most interest in, I was intrigued, and I did my homework this past weekend, watching not one but both of Arizona’s games in the first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.
Man, am I glad I did.
Gordon is a 6’9″ freak who can impact a game on both ends of the floor. He opened the tournament by making an emphatic statement on the defensive end, swatting away 5 of Weber State’s shot attempts. He also scored 16 points on 7-11 shooting and pulled down 8 rebounds as Arizona won, 68-59.
Last night, Gordon overcame early foul trouble to throw down 18 points on 8-10 shooting, and by throw down, I mean, “Throw it down, young stud!” Gordon was a high-flying human highlight reel against Gonzaga, as the Wildcats absolutely dismantled the ‘Zags 84-61. Once again, Gordon was a game-changer on both ends of the court, as he had four steals on the evening and chipped in 6 assists. As well as University of Kentucky power forward Julius Randle played this weekend, fans of Gordon can make the argument that he has been the best forward in the NCAA Tournament so far.
The knock on Gordon is that he is inconsistent on offense – but you can say that about pretty much every college freshman, right, Andrew Wiggins? I’m more concerned with his inconsistency on the defensive end – with his skill set, how is it possible he only averages one block per game? Again, I have not seen enough of him to know whether he turns in off on certain nights, and has simply turned it on now that the lights are their brightest. Still, what I’ve seen from Gordon so far has me dreaming of watching this kid wearing Celtic green and white, swatting a shot on one end and then racing down court to rattle the rim courtesy of an alley oop-pass from Rajon Rondo.
Keep an eye on this kid as the Big Dance progresses, folks!