Why Nuggets’ Aaron Gordon has legitimate All-Star Game case


The best basketball of Aaron Gordon’s life has a chance to yield something he’s never attained throughout his nine years in the NBA: an All-Star bid.

Gordon, as evidenced by his stunning Christmas Day poster dunk over Landry Shamet, still has the brute athleticism that helped make him the No. 4 overall pick in 2014. But nearly a decade later, Gordon’s game has aged like a California Cabernet.

His 17.5 points per game ties his career-high. His 39% shooting from 3-point range is, easily, the best he’s ever shot from long range. Behind that number is confidence borne from endless hours in the gym this past offseason. One team official said Gordon’s a mainstay on the court, both before and after official practices.

But what’s separating Gordon throughout the first third of the regular season is his stunning efficiency. Gordon’s a career 47% shooter from the field. This season, he’s finishing over 61% of his looks.

To put that number in context, Gordon, a power forward, is on pace with the most efficient centers in basketball. Nikola Jokic is shooting nearly 62% this season, as are both Domantas Sabonis and DeAndre Ayton. Assuming Jokic is a lock to start the All-Star Game, the latter two are legitimate competition for Gordon’s spot.

When you compare Gordon to the rest of the forwards in the Western Conference, he’s been more efficient than both Anthony Davis (59%) and Zion Williamson (60%). On two-pointers, Gordon’s making 68% of his looks; Williamson, a physical force the NBA hasn’t seen since Shaq, is making 62% on such shots.

After erupting for seven dunks on Christmas, Gordon’s also among the league leaders in that category, too.

Last season, injuries to Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray mandated Gordon shoulder more of the offensive burden. Gordon did what he could to help supplement Jokic’s second MVP campaign. His scoring was out of necessity and not necessarily in rhythm. This season is an example of what can happen when a player’s skills match his environment. Gordon, as the third or fourth option in Denver’s dazzling offense, is playing contained, dominant basketball.

Having grasped the attention Jokic absorbs from opposing defenses, Gordon is eating off his plate. That’s not in a selfish way, either. Jokic, indifferent to his own numbers, is more than happy to indulge an intelligent cutter.


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