The Orlando Magic committed to Aaron Gordon this summer by re-signing the restricted free agent to a long-term contract.
He penned a four-year, $84 million deal to remain in Florida, which was a reward for his breakout season.
The power forward averaged career-highs across the board with 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steal per game.
Gordon also expanded his game as he stepped out to hit three-pointers, nailing a career-best 33.6 percent from beyond the arc.
The Magic are certainly hoping that the 23-year-old can take another major leap this season.
Hitting new heights
New head coach Steve Clifford is aware of the talent his big man possesses and believes he can become an All-Star.
But he’s identified two key areas that he must improve on to reach this level.
“I think, as much as everything, he’s made a jump every year offensively. Now, it’s about purpose of play on the offensive end,” said Clifford, according to John Denton of Magic.com.
“He can put up similar numbers or even better with increased efficiency. But to me, the biggest things that I have been talking to him about are his defence and rebounding.”
Clifford is confident that the athletic forward can become a dominant presence on both ends of the floor and has challenged him to impact the game in various ways.
“This league is so much about having two-way players and I told him that if he wants to be considered an All-Star level player you are going to impress more coaches and basketball people by becoming the defender that you can be,” he said.
“If he’s first or second-team All-Defence with 19 (points) and 9 (rebounds), he’s going to become an All-Star.
“To me, that’s where it all starts for him. He’s a capable guy and that’s been my message to him every time that we’ve talked.’’
Gordon is still young enough to improve in many facets and if he’s able to become a reliable defender it’ll take his game to a new level.
Clifford is a defensive-minded coach who helped Kemba Walker blossom into an All-Star during his time with the Charlotte Hornets.
He certainly knows what he’s talking about and the Arizona product should take it on board as it’ll not only make him better but the team too.
If Clifford is able to convince Orlando’s franchise player to play defence, it’ll make it easier for the rest of the Magic squad to buy in and follow suit.
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