Aaron Gordon finding his space on offense
Some peers around the NBA expected to see the Denver Nuggets struggle through the first part of the season due to the fact that Jamal Murray hasn’t played since April 2021. Michael Porter Jr. is also returning from a long absence due to a back injury that restricted him to just nine games a season ago. Despite all that, the Nuggets found a way to be one of the better teams on the offensive end, and surprisingly, Aaron Gordon is a big part of their success.
Gordon has built a reputation for being a defense-first wing over the past three to four NBA seasons. He was used in several defensive roles last season, where he was even called to guard the first point of attack as the most capable perimeter defender on the team. However, this year, there is a big difference in Gordon’s game due to the presence of Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who are taking on the defensive assignments along the perimeter.
The presence of those two unlocked Gordon’s ability to spend some of his explosiveness and energy on the offensive end. In his last 8 games, Gordon has been an excellent weapon on offense with averages of 17.8 points per game, shooting better than 66% from the field. During that span, he’s ranked in the 90th percentile in shooting from inside and beyond the arc among NBA forwards and the Nuggets are +16.5 when Gordon is on the floor.
Even though Gordon is currently “riding the wave” of his red-hot shooting stroke, his ability to finish on offense has to do more with the fact that the Nuggets now have other capable defenders able to guard the opponent’s best player. Gordon was expected to be an integral part of what the Nuggets’ can do this season and he’s probably been the team’s best performer thus far.