With roster changes appearing all but inevitable this summer for the Brooklyn Nets, is a deal for Aaron Gordon the answer?
Despite a relatively underwhelming season, which was marred by untimely injuries and missed opportunities, make no doubt about it: The Brooklyn Nets still have serious aspirations of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in the immediate future.
So with the Pistons and Magic both having an interest in Spencer Dinwiddie, per Ian Begley of SNY, should the team entertain the idea of parting ways with the 26-year-old? To be a tad bit more transparent, should they look to deal him in a package centered around Aaron Gordon?
Gordon is the unfortunate victim of a less-than-flattering fit in Orlando; his upside is much higher than what his baseline stats might indicate. For the season, he is averaging 14.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists on 42.9/31.2/67.4 splits. Respectable but not exactly rousing stuff.
However, he’s shown to be a more than capable defender, utilizing his physical stature and freakish athleticism to thwart opposing defenses. His strength allows him to bang down low with the brutes of the NBA with the results more often than not in favor. In post-ups, he defends at an efficient clip—ranking in the 67th percentile, allowing 0.83 points per possession.
His lateral quickness also allows him to stay in front of smaller guards; in defensive isolation instances, Gordon ranks in the 89th percentile (per NBA Stats), allowing a meager 0.67 points per possession.
Having a switchable defender in itself is a prized luxury, and though Gordon’s offensive game might lack consistency or impressive efficiency, it’s still more than serviceable.
He’s shooting 69.6 percent at the rim; he’s also averaging 1.56 points per possession (93rd percentile) on cuts and is a year removed from shooting 40.2 percent from the corner on three-point attempts—which also made up 25 percent of his perimeter looks.
In a motion spread offense such as the one Kenny Atkinson utilizes, which is also analytically-inclined, the fit begins to appear more alluring. Here’s a guy that is competent in moving without the basketball, does not demand a high usage, and can bring defensive intensity.
However, with all that said, forfeiting an asset like Spencer Dinwiddie—whose worth to this roster has magnified this season—is much too risky for my liking unless the package is centered around that proverbial ‘third star.’
Does Gordon move the needle? Perhaps ever so slightly, but is that to say he’s the missing link to get the Nets over the hump? That’s a debate and a half.
You have to take into account Irving’s injury history and the significance of having a player that plays the same position and can help the ship stay afloat when obstreperous waters begin to take form.
Irving is an All-NBA talent, one of the most electrifying talents to ever grace an NBA hardwood, and has already proven that he is more than capable of being a second option on a contending basketball team, when healthy. And that’s just it, that’s the unfavorable asterisk you have to attach to the Nets’ upside…they must be healthy.
So if Irving is to miss prolonged time next season, be it via injury or the oh-so-popular methods of load management, having a guy of Dinwiddie’s magnitude who has already illustrated he can elevate his play to near-All-Star levels in such instances is an absolute necessity.
Is that to say Dinwiddie should be deemed an untouchable this summer? No, and Sean Marks has more than shown he can be amongst the most ruthless executives in the game—no one outside Kyrie or KD are safe. Well, maybe DeAndre Jordan and his contract are safe, but you get what I mean. But moving Spencer is only appealing if the right deal presents itself, and this is not the right deal.