3) Aaron Gordon
Personally, I would love to throw Bones Hyland into this last spot here, unfortunately, even if Hyland can break into the starting rotation next season, which feels unlikely given how much of a better rotational fit Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is. Chances are he’ll still be overshadowed by the likes of Jokic, Murray, Porter and our final potential first-ever NBA All-Star, Aaron Gordon.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “How can a player who’s never averaged over 18 points per game be an NBA All-Star?”. Well, just ask 2018 Al Horford or 2017 Kevin Love and Draymond Green. All of whom averaged less than 20 points per game but got selected as an All-Star because they played for winning franchises.
Horford’s Celtics were atop the Eastern Conference in 2018, while Love’s Cavaliers and Green’s Warriors were each considered favorites in 2017. Hence why both franchises had at least three players make an All-Star team that year.
Now, obviously Gordon doesn’t possess as balanced a skill set as Draymond Green and he’s nowhere near the elite rebounder Kevin Love used to be. However, if the Denver Nuggets waltz into January with the best record in the Western Conference, they too could have three or even four All-Stars, including Aaron Gordon.
At 6’8”, 235 pounds, Gordon is a prototype in terms of build for the forward position. His length enables him to be a strong finisher at the rim, while his athleticism has made him a viral sensation since his high school days when he was named California Mr. Basketball (twice).
It’s clear that Aaron Gordon will never be the franchise player that saw him get drafted fourth overall back in 2014. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t play a major role for a championship contender like the Denver Nuggets. And while he’s probably not the best option as a three-point threat, he complements the rest of the Nuggets lineup beautifully.
Murray and Porter Jr. project to be the team’s top two perimeter options on offense, while Nikola Jokic will remain the team’s lead facilitator, rebounder and scorer. Although, Gordon is easily Denver’s deadliest two-way threat as someone who can defend the other team’s best player, get out in transition and cut hard to the basket to give you at least 15 points and 7 rebounds a night.
I liken him the most to Andrew Wiggins, who was an All-Star last season averaging just over 17 points, 4 rebounds and a steal per game with .466/.393/.634 shooting splits. Which actually made him the fourth-best scoring option for a 53-win Golden State Warriors team.
If Aaron Gordon can maintain his scoring and rebounding averages next season while shooting better than 50 percent from the field (and the Nuggets remain atop the Western Conference), he’s certainly a potential dark horse candidate to crack an NBA All-Star team in 2023.