#3 – Aaron Gordon
It’s only fitting that we save the most unlikely trade scenario for last, a deal involving Aaron Gordon.
Aaron Gordon is clearly a very talented player, even if he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype that comes with being a top five pick in the draft. Since being traded to the Denver Nuggets, he’s put up his best scoring totals since 2019 and has done everything that’s been asked of him, all while taking on a lesser role with the team.
Last season, he averaged 15.0 points per game while shooting a career-high 52 percent from the field and 74 percent from the free-throw line. So, he’s already proven that he can fill that role as one of the team’s leading scorers and primary wing defenders.
Which is why it would be crazy for Denver to get rid of him now, right?
Well, the truth is that he’s probably the most valuable trade piece on the roster. Not only is he just 26 years old and one of the best young perimeter defenders in the game. But he’s also shown his ability to score, rebound and even facilitate at a high clip, all while shooting the ball at an efficient rate.
Obviously, he has a limited skill set offensively, since his game primarily revolves around adept post play and hard, athletic cuts to the rim. However, he can also guard the opposing team’s best player and carries an annual average salary of $21.6 million over the next four years, per Spotrac. Which is very manageable if you’re a contending team looking to shake things up a bit.
I’m sure most Nuggets fans would rather see a deal involving Barton or Morris, but if the organization really wants to swing big on draft night, then we could certainly see a trade centred around Aaron Gordon.
Considering the length and structure of Gordon’s contract, a deal involving OG Anunoby would make the most sense. Although, I firmly believe that the only way Toronto would consider trading Anunoby is if it resulted in them getting Rudy Gobert.
Taking this into account, if a trade were to go down on draft night involving these three players, it would go something like the example shown above.
For the Raptors, the thought of losing both OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. might seem crazy. Particularly since the former is widely regarded as one of the more underrated 3-and-D players in the league and the latter is coming off a season in which he put up career-highs across the board.
However, when you consider the fact that the team would be receiving the best interior defender in basketball, an area that the Raptors desperately need assistance in, then the trade starts to make sense. This doesn’t even include the addition of Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who’s one of the more exciting young combo guards in the association (and a Toronto native).
For the Jazz, they’d be able to rid themselves of Gobert’s horrid contract while also obtaining a couple of solid two-way players in Aaron Gordon and Trent Jr. Both of whom could start right away and easily emerge as the team’s second and third leading scorers behind Donovan Mitchell.
Sure, losing Alexander-Walker is tough, but the Jazz haven’t shown any interest in committing to him long term anyway. They’d also be receiving the 30th overall pick in the draft as compensation, which isn’t a bad trade off at all.
Then there’s the Denver Nuggets, who would basically be giving up Gordon and moving back three spots in the draft to reel in one of the more exciting wing players in the association, OG Anunoby. Who’s upped his scoring averages from 10.1 to 17.1 points per game over the last three NBA seasons. As well as his steal totals, coming off a 2021-22 campaign in which he averaged over 1.5 per game.
The Denver Nuggets would now have a core of Jokic, Murray, Porter, Anunoby, Morris, Hyland, and Barton, forming one of the more balanced rotations in basketball. Not even including whoever else they draft at picks No. 21 and 33, or the players they sign in free agency.