Aaron Gordon was impressive in his Saturday morning workout with the Utah Jazz.
The Arizona forward showed an improved shooting touch, consistently making 3-pointers from the NBA corners. Unlike most of the prospects the Jazz have brought in, he didn’t struggle with the altitude. He displayed the explosion and the athleticism that’s made him a hot prospect in the first place. He impressed the Jazz with his overall enthusiasm.
On a day Utah introduced Quin Snyder as its new coach and brought in other first round prospects like Adreian Payne, Jerami Grant and Jarnell Stokes, Gordon stood out in his own way. And as the time to the NBA Draft gets shorter, Gordon seems to have firmly etched his way into the conversation for the Jazz’s fifth overall pick.
“He went as hard at the end of the workout as he did at the beginning,” Utah’s VP of player personnel Walt Perrin said. “He shot the ball well from the corners and he’s really improved his shooting over the last year. With his athleticism, he has a high ceiling.”
Those who have watched Gordon over the last year know about the high-flying dunks, the defense, the size for his position and how hard he plays the game. Still, Gordon’s received knocks in the draft process for his lack of shooting, and his 42 percent free-throw percentage while at Arizona.
So when he declared for the NBA Draft, Gordon went to work with a personal trainer. He’s tightened his shooting stroke and so far, it’s yielded results.
Perrin said his overall game has improved in the last year. Gordon wouldn’t define himself a position, but Perrin said he thinks Gordon can play both front court spots at the NBA level. Should the Jazz draft him with the No. 5 pick, Gordon could instantly give Utah an infusion of raw athleticism up front. And on a team that often struggled defensively, Gordon’s ability to guard multiple positions and rebound would serve as a welcome asset.
“I want to play wherever they need me to play,” Gordon said. “I’m a basketball player. I know some people are a little edgy on this answer, but you can put me on the floor, I can defend and I can give you what I can give you on offense.”
Payne, Grant and Stokes competed in the first group of the day, a workout Perrin praised for its level of competition. Payne is someone the Jazz could be looking at later in the first round, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Michigan State. He stands out for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. Grant is the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant.