NBA

Aaron Gordon.

Aaron Gordon's transformation is drawing similarities to Blake Griffin

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The start of this NBA season has thrown up some surprises but the biggest one may belong to the Orlando Magic as they sit at the top of the Eastern Conference. 

After eight games, they are tied with the Boston Celtics for the best record at 6-2 and it's fair to say that nobody predicted that they'd begin the campaign in this fashion. 

Frank Vogel's men have already pulled off two huge scalps by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs. 

In the eyes of many, this was going to be another lottery year for the Magic but they look determined to prove people wrong and compete. 

One major reason for their impressive start has been down to the improvement of Aaron Gordon, who has caught the eye with some terrific displays. 

Transition

The 22-year-old is now in his fourth year in Orlando and is finally showing that he's more than just a dunker. 

The big man was in danger of being pigeon-holed as just an athletic player who made the occasional highlight play. 

Verizon Slam Dunk Contest 2017

The franchise's bizarre decision to clog the roster with bigs last season certainly didn't help Gordon as he was forced to play at the small forward position instead of his preferred spot at power forward. 

The arrivals of Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo stunted his development but Vogel soon rectified that after they traded Ibaka and he's seeing the rewards. 

In a league that is increasingly going small, the Magic were going big but they've now caught up with the modern trend and it's getting the best out of their youngster. 

After eight games, he's averaging career-highs across the board with 20.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.0 block per game whilst shooting 56.1 percent from the field and 57.7 percent from three-point range. 

Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets

His efficiency from beyond the arc has been the most remarkable transformation in his game and he's benefiting from the pace and space style the team is adopting. 

'Air Gordon' has hit two game-winning threes in the past week, the latest of which came in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies last night. 

He came into the year shooting just under 30 percent from distance but is now knocking them down at an exceptional rate. 

He enjoyed a career night against the Brooklyn Nets over a week ago where he dropped 41 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from range.

“There’s more to come,” Gordon told the Orlando Sentinel. “Obviously, I’m happy but I’m not satisfied. I’m definitely at peace with where my shot is now, but there’s just more to come.”

Comparison

With this early season development in his game, it's easy to compare the former number four overall pick to Blake Griffin. 

The Los Angeles Clippers star's career has almost been through the same process as Gordon as he was also just looked at as a high-flyer who didn't have much else to his game when he first burst onto the scene.

Over the course of his career, Griffin has expanded his skill set and added so much that he's now considered one of the most well-rounded bigs in the league.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers - Game One

The five-time All-Star improved his post moves, his jump shot and is easily among the best ball-handling and passing big men around. 

In recent years, he's also added the three-point shot to his arsenal and showed this off by having the confidence to take and hit a buzzer beater from downtown to sink the Portland Trail Blazers last week.

It's clear to see why Gordon is drawing similarities to his counterpart from L.A. and his career could have the same trajectory if he continues in the form he's in. 

Orlando Magic v Detroit Pistons

He's always been talked of as the next Blake Griffin, mainly due to his athleticism, but he can now emulate him in other areas too. 

The Florida-based outfit chose not to give the Arizona product a rookie extension last month as they were keen to see how he performs this year and if he's worthy of a max deal. 

If he continues in this vein, they should have no qualms about locking him down to a big deal next summer as he may finally become the franchise player they were hoping for. 

Topics:
NBA
Orlando Magic
Southeast Division
Eastern Conference
Blake Griffin
L.A. Clippers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Aaron Gordon

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