Stats & Info: Aaron Gordon

2014 NBA Draft recap

June, 27, 2014

Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsAndrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker went at the top of this year's draft.
The 2014 NBA Draft is in the books. Here are the stats you need to know about the top seven picks.

No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins became the 2nd Canadian-born player to be drafted No. 1 overall, joining Anthony Bennett last season. There are now three Canadian-born top-5 picks in the common draft era, and all are on the Cavaliers (Wiggins, Bennett, Tristan Thompson).

Wiggins also joins Danny Manning, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1988, as the only players in Kansas history picked first overall.

No. 2 Milwaukee Bucks – Jabari Parker
Parker became the sixth Duke player drafted in the top five since 1999.

He should be an immediate help for the Bucks in the post. Milwaukee averaged 5.9 post-up points per game, 27th in the league. Parker averaged 3.6 post-up points per game on 55.4% shooting.

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid
Embiid gives the 76ers a good two-way post player. On offense he shot 55 percent on post-ups this season, best in the Big 12 (minimum 50 plays).

In the last 15 games he played with Kansas, Embiid held opponents to 29% shooting in the post.

No. 4 Orlando Magic - Aaron Gordon
Gordon is the fourth Arizona player drafted in the top five in the common draft era, joining Mike Bibby, Sean Elliott and Derrick Williams.

The Magic also pick up the youngest player in this draft class. Gordon does not turn 19 until September.

No. 5 Utah Jazz – Dante Exum
Exum joins Kyrie Irving and Andrew Bogut as the only Australian-born players picked in the top five in the common draft era.

The only other international point guard drafted in the top 10 was Ricky Rubio.

No. 6 Boston Celtics – Marcus Smart
Smart is the highest drafted Oklahoma State player since Bryant Reeves in 1995.

The last time the Celtics took a point guard this high in a draft was in 1997 when they drafted Chauncey Billups third overall.

No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers – Julius Randle
Last season the Lakers ranked last in both defensive and offensive rebounding percentage. Enter Randle, who led the nation with 24 double-doubles last season.

How prolific was Randle? The only freshman in Division I history to ever record more double-doubles in a season was Michael Beasley, who had 28 for Kansas State in 2007-08.

Fixing weaknesses for 7 teams in draft

June, 23, 2014
Cleveland Cavaliers – Post presence
According to Synergy Sports Technology, the Cavaliers averaged 6.0 post-up points per game last season, 26th in the league. On the defensive end, they ranked second-to-last in blocks per game.

Best fit – Jabari Parker
In his only season at Duke, Parker averaged 3.6 post-up points per game, shooting 55.4 percent on such shots.

Milwaukee Bucks – Inside presence
The Bucks grabbed just 71.4 percent of available defensive rebounds in the regular season, ranking 29th in the league. The team also allowed 108.9 points per 100 possessions, which trailed only the Jazz for the worst defensive efficiency.

Best fit – Joel Embiid
By himself, Embiid rebounded 27 percent of opponent's missed shots when on the court, the highest rebound percentage in the Big 12.

Philadelphia 76ers – Overall efficiency
Philadelphia was outscored by 10.7 points per 100 possessions last season, the worst rate by any team since the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats.

Best fit – Andrew Wiggins
The 76ers ran 151 more plays in transition than any other team last season, but scored only 49 percent of the time (worst in NBA). Wiggins could thrive in this run-and-gun system and would raise the team's efficiency, as he scored on 69 percent of his transition plays in his only season at Kansas, the best individual rate in the Big 12.

Orlando Magic – Playmaking in transition
The Magic struggled on both ends in transition, ranking 29th in transition offensive efficiency and 27th in transition defensive efficiency.

Best fit – Dante Exum
Although Exum has not played in the United States, he showed off amazing speed and quickness at the NBA draft combine in May. His 10.75 seconds in lane agility and 3.19 seconds in the three-quarter court sprint ranked second and eighth (tie), respectively. The combined rank of his times was the second-fastest, trailing just Zach LaVine among 51 players who participated in both events.

Utah Jazz – Defensive presence
The Jazz ranked last in defensive efficiency and struggled to pressure the ball, ranking second-to-last in opponent turnover percentage.

Best fit – Marcus Smart
Smart was one of the best defenders in the college ranks last season, ranking top-10 nationally in opponent points per game (5.3) and opponent field goal percentage (27.6 percent). Smart also ranked third in the nation with 2.9 steals per game and had a 5 percent steal rate, seventh in the nation.

Boston Celtics – Inside offensive presence
The Celtics struggled with offensive efficiency and were especially poor in the paint, ranking 27th in paint points per game last season.

Best fit – Aaron Gordon
Although Gordon was a poor jump shooter, he did a lot of damage inside the paint when it mattered the most: the NCAA tournament. Of his 57 points during Arizona’s tournament run, he scored 42 points in the paint on 61.8 percent shooting.

Los Angeles Lakers – Rebounding
The Lakers were abysmal on the glass during the regular season, ranking last in offensive, defensive and total rebounding rate.

Best fit – Noah Vonleh
Vonleh led the Big Ten in rebounds per game last season and in defensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 27 percent of opponent's missed shots in his only season at Indiana.

Vonleh also has an added dimension as a smooth jump shooter. He shot 16-of-33 on 3-point attempts, which would have ranked eighth in the nation percentage-wise if he had qualified with enough attempts. He also led the Big Ten with a 50 percent catch-and-shoot field goal percentage (minimum 25 attempts), ahead of sharpshooters such as Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris.

NBA Draft: Vonleh, Randle or Gordon?

June, 22, 2014
Perhaps the tightest positional race near the top of the NBA Draft this year is among the power forwards – Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon.

Coming into the draft process, Randle was higher than Vonleh and Gordon on most mock drafts.

But looking at the per-minute numbers, it appears that Vonleh has the edge.

Vonleh averaged more rebounds, blocks and steals per 40 minutes than Randle and Gordon while shooting a better effective field-goal percentage than the two of them as well.

Vonleh ranked fifth among D-I freshmen in rebound percentage (Joel Embiid was first, Randle was seventh).

If we break down how the three players score, Vonleh is the much better shooter but doesn’t score at the rim nearly as well as Randle and Gordon.

Vonleh shot nearly 50 percent on 3-pointers, while Randle shot just 9-of-52 on all jump shots.

Randle and Gordon both made about 70 percent of their shots at the rim, while Vonleh was below 60 percent.

Gordon is the far superior creator of the three players.

Gordon’s assist percentage was three times better than Vonleh’s. Gordon was the only one of the three with more assists than turnovers.

Vonleh had more than three times as many turnovers as assists.

Defensively, Randle and Gordon appear to have a significant edge on Vonleh as the primary on-ball defender.

Vonleh allowed opponents to shoot 60 percent around the basket, comparing to 27 percent Randle and 46 percent for Gordon.

Vonleh might have the same ability to guard in isolation as Randle and Gordon. Vonleh allowed opponents to shoot 60 percent on isolation plays, while Randle and Gordon both held opponents to around 30 percent on those plays.

It’s no surprise, though, that Vonleh had the best block percentage of the three. Vonleh, who has a 7-foot-4 wingspan and 37-inch vertical leap, blocked greater than five percent of his opponents’ two-point field-goal attempts while he was on the court.

Among the power forwards, Randle got the most hype throughout the season as Kentucky made a run to the National Championship game. But looking deeper into the advanced statistics, Vonleh and Gordon appear to be neck-and-neck with Randle for the first power forward to come off the board.

Historical analysis of NBA draft combine

May, 16, 2014
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid were not in attendance at the 2014 NBA draft combine in Chicago, but plenty of other top prospects went through anthropometric testing, strength and agility drills, and shooting drills.

Randle versus Gordon versus Vonleh
There are three power forwards ranked in Chad Ford’s top 10 prospects -- Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh.

Vonleh has the longest wingspan of the three players. His 7-foot-4.25 wingspan was second only to Isaiah Austin (7-foot-4.5) at the combine. Randle (7-foot-0) and Gordon (6-foot-11.75) both measured more than four inches shorter in wingspan.

Vonleh measured as the tallest of the three players (6-foot-8 without shoes, 6-foot-9.5 in shoes).

Vonleh led the entire NBA draft combine field in hand width (11.75 inches) and was tied for the longest hand length (9.75 inches). Since hand width was first recorded at the NBA draft combine in 2010, Vonleh’s hand width is the second-highest among all players, trailing only Gregory Smith (12 inches in 2011).

Strength and agility drills
Markel Brown and Jahii Carson had the highest max vertical leaps, at 43.5 inches. That’s tied for the third-highest maximum vertical leap at the NBA draft combine since 2000. The only higher verticals were Shane Larkin (44 inches last year) and Kenny Gregory (45.5 inches in 2001).

Other players to join the 40-inch vertical club are Zach LaVine (41.5), Nick Johnson (41.5), Glenn Robinson III (41.5) and Cleanthony Early (40.0).

Gordon recorded a 39-inch maximum vertical leap, the third-highest since 2008 by a player who measured at least 6-foot-7 without shoes. The only such players with a higher vertical were C.J. Leslie (40.5 last year) and Tyrus Thomas (39.5 in 2006).

LaVine was perhaps the biggest winner of the strength and agility drills. He is the only player who finished in the top 10 in all five categories –- lane agility time (1st), shuttle run (2nd), ¾-court sprint (T-8th), standing vertical leap (T-4th) and maximum vertical leap (T-3rd).

Other notes
Dante Exum fared well in the strength and agility drills, ranking in the top 10 in lane agility, shuttle run and ¾-court sprint. His ¾-court sprint time (3.19 seconds) was faster than Chris Paul (3.22), Stephen Curry (3.28) and Damian Lillard (3.34) at the NBA draft combine.

Marcus Smart’s lane agility time of 10.82 seconds was faster than John Wall (10.84), Russell Westbrook (10.98) and Paul (11.09) at the combine.

Gordon’s standing vertical leap of 32.5 inches topped that of Blake Griffin (32.0), Chris Bosh (30.5) and Dwight Howard (30.5) at the combine.

Skipping the combine
Will Wiggins, Parker and Embiid skipping the NBA draft combine affect their stock at all?

There have been four players in the past 10 drafts not to attend the combine for various reasons who still went in the top five. That includes a pair of No. 1 picks -- Anthony Bennett last year and Andrea Bargnani in 2006. Bennett was injured, while the other three played internationally.

For the full NBA draft combine results, click on this link.

Freshman Focus: all six in action Sat.

January, 31, 2014
One of the main stories in college basketball this season has been the performance of the freshmen phenoms. All six of the freshmen who have been included in ESPN's Freshman Focus will be in action Saturday. It's one of three remaining days in the regular season that they will all play on the same day.

Tyler Ennis, Syracuse Orange
Although not the most-hyped freshman entering the season, no Division I freshman has more win shares, according to College Basketball Reference. At 3.8, Ennis trails only Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson for the top spot among all ACC players.

Ennis has shined with his clutch play. Syracuse has been tied or behind at the five-minute mark in the second half in five games this season, including in two of its last three. The Orange outscored their opponents by 37 points the rest of the way in those two games, but eventual wins.

Jabari Parker, Duke Blue Devils
Parker and Duke will go head-to-head with Ennis and Syracuse this Saturday. Parker has shined for Duke this season, with 12 20-point games, already tied for sixth-most all-time among ACC freshmen.

Entering Friday, Parker is one of just seven players in all of Division I this season to average at least 18 points and eight rebounds per game. He’s also improving as the season’s going on, averaging 18.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in his last four ACC games (10.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG in first four ACC games).

Julius Randle, Kentucky Wildcats
No school has had more highly-regarded freshmen recently than Kentucky, but as the chart on the right shows, Randle's offense is exceeding what Nerlens Noel and Anthony Davis did to start their freshman years.

Randle leads all Division I freshmen with 11 double-doubles this season, three more than Noah Vonleh of Indiana.

Aaron Gordon, Arizona Wildcats
Gordon has played a key role in Arizona's start, which also happens to be the longest win streak in school history.

Although he’s struggled shooting the last few games, he remains one of the best rebounders in the freshman class, leading all Pac-12 freshmen in offensive and defensive rebounds per game.

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas Jayhawks
Wiggins is coming off a big night in Kansas’ win Wednesday over the 16th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones. He scored a career-high 29 points, the second straight game he set a career high in scoring.

Wiggins' ability to get easier shots up close to the hoop is his strong point. He leads the Big 12 (and is third in the nation) in transition points per play, and has shot nearly 73 percent from the paint in his last two games, well above his average over the first 18 games (55.8%).

Joel Embiid, Kansas Jayhawks
Unlike his teammate Wiggins, Embiid started the season under the radar among the freshman class, but has put his name among the best in the class with his improvement during the season.

In November and December, Embiid averaged 10.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. In January, those numbers are up to 12.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game.

Wiggins excels against top competition

January, 17, 2014
Andrew Wiggins entered the season as the No. 1 recruit in college basketball and projected as the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

There’s been some talk about Wiggins falling short of his lofty expectations thus far. Some draft experts believe Duke’s Jabari Parker may have surpassed Wiggins as the projected No. 1 pick.

But Wiggins reminded scouts of his potential on Saturday, when he scored 13 straight Kansas points in the second half of the Jayhawks’ win against Kansas State. On Monday, he posted a career-high 19 rebounds to go along with 17 points in a win at Iowa State.

Despite his inconsistencies, Wiggins has played his best against his toughest competition.

Against ranked teams this season –- Duke, Florida, San Diego State, Kansas State and Iowa State –- Wiggins is averaging 20.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

Against unranked opponents, he’s averaging 13.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Wiggins has been more efficient and is shooting better from inside the arc and 3-point range against ranked opponents.

Comparing the top three freshmen (based on 2013 ESPN 100 rankings) -- Wiggins, Parker and Julius Randle –- Wiggins is the most efficient offensively against ranked opponents.

Why hasn’t Wiggins taken over games as often as Parker and Randle?

Wiggins has not been featured in the Kansas offense the way the other freshmen have. Most of his offensive production has come within the flow of the offense.

Combining isolations, post-ups and plays in which he is the pick-and-roll ball-handler, Wiggins is averaging about two fewer 1-on-1 plays per game than both Parker and Randle. Wiggins has been more efficient than Randle on those plays despite Randle averaging nearly two-and-a-half more 1-on-1 plays per game.

Where Wiggins really has the edge over Parker and Randle –- and over almost any player -– is in transition.

Wiggins ranks eighth in the country in transition points per play (1.45) among players with at least 45 such plays this season.

While Wiggins may have a long way to go before becoming the next LeBron James, the numbers show he still might be the best prospect in this freshman class.

Defense first for Aaron Gordon

January, 9, 2014

When discussing the "big 4" freshmen -- Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon -- it's easy to talk about the offensive abilities of Wiggins, Parker and Randle.

But what about defense?

Gordon leads all Division I freshmen this season in defensive win shares -- a statistic that estimates the number of wins a player contributes to their team due to their defense.

Wiggins, Parker and Randle all rank outside the top 10 among freshmen in defensive win shares.

The next Blake Griffin?
Coming into college, Gordon was often compared to another athletic big man -- Blake Griffin, who was a freshman at Oklahoma six years ago. Griffin played two college seasons before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

The comparison might not be far off. Remember that Griffin did not dominate as a freshman the way he did as a sophomore. In his first season at Oklahoma, he averaged about 15 points and nine rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent. Gordon's numbers are very similar to Griffin's numbers as a freshman.

Both players are efficient in transition. Gordon is shooting 67 percent in transition compared to Griffin's 64 percent as a freshman. Transition is where Griffin racks up the highlights with the "Lob City" Clippers.

Griffin attacks the rim relentlessly and finishes with authority. Gordon is shooting 55 percent at the rim compared to Griffin's 56 percent as a freshman.

And Gordon is the better jump shooter, shooting 28 percent on jumpers compared to Griffin at just 20 percent as a freshman. Gordon is 7-of-19 on 3-pointers, while Griffin didn't make a single 3-pointer as a freshman.

But again -- what about defense?

Defense wins championships
Gordon is holding opponents to 34 percent shooting as an on-ball defender. Griffin's opponents shot 42 percent as a freshman. Gordon is much better than Griffin was defending the post. Gordon is holding opponents to 40 percent shooting on post-up plays compared to 55 percent for Griffin.

Gordon's defense is a large reason why Arizona has the third-best defensive efficiency in the country. It's also why the Wildcats are 15-0, their best start since 1931-32.

So when you compare Gordon to Griffin or Wiggins, Parker and Randle, don't forget that defense is just as important as offense -- and on defense, Gordon has the edge.

Arizona's ball-sharing helps down Duke

November, 29, 2013
Sixth-ranked Duke and fourth-ranked Arizona entered Friday night’s game with excellent résumés in the NIT Season Tip-Off. Duke had won 14 straight games in the event, having last lost in November 1996. Arizona, on the other hand, had a 21-2 record all time in the event.

Despite trailing at halftime, Arizona picked up the win, outscoring Duke 39-30 in the second half for a six-point victory by getting a balanced scoring effort, with all five starters scoring between 10 and 15 points. It was Arizona’s fourth NIT Season Tip-Off title, tying the Blue Devils for the most all time.

The key for Arizona was sharing the ball. The Wildcats made 23 field goals in the game, picking up assists on 18 of them (78 percent of field goals). Duke had 11 assists on 25 field goals (44 percent).

It was also a matchup between two of the freshman phenoms in Division I this season, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon and Duke’s Jabari Parker.

Parker won the scoring battle, putting up 19 points to 10 for Gordon, but it was the worst game of Parker’s brief collegiate career, as he finished 7-21 from the field, including a 2-12 mark from outside the paint and 0-5 from 3-point range.

Parker’s 33 percent shooting was well below the 60 percent he shot in his first seven career games, when he also shot over 60 percent from beyond the arc. Parker’s rebounding also took a hit, as he finished Friday’s game with three boards after coming in averaging 8.7 per game.

But Parker wasn't the only Blue Devil struggling on the boards. According to STATS LLC, three Arizona players (Kaleb Tarczewski, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and T.J. McConnell) all rebounded at least 70 percent of their rebound chances. No Duke player hit that mark for the game. (A rebound chance is when a player is within 3.5 feet of the ball at the time of a rebound.)

Although Aaron Gordon is the headline player for Arizona, McConnell finished with 10 points, six rebounds and eight assists and set the pace for the Wildcats.

During live ball action, his average speed on the offensive end was 4.9 MPH. No other player who saw at least five minutes of action had an average speed higher than 4.5 MPH. McConnell finished the game having run 2.7 miles, more than a half-mile more than any of his teammates, also according to STATS LLC.