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NBA: Denver Nuggets-Media Day Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

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Can Aaron Gordon continue to be the glue that fits the Nuggets together?

AG is entering his first full year with the Nuggets and will play a pivotal role in the team’s success

Aaron Gordon 2020-21 Stats (Denver)

Season Games Minutes Points Rebounds Assists FG% 3P%
Season Games Minutes Points Rebounds Assists FG% 3P%
Regular Season 25 25.9 10.2 4.7 2.2 50% 26.6%
Playoffs 10 29.9 11.1 5.4 2 43.4% 39.1%

Overview

Last season, after several fruitless seasons in Orlando, Aaron Gordon requested a trade and the Denver Nuggets came calling. Seeking after his defensive versatility and elite athleticism following the free agency departure of Jerami Grant, the Nuggets parted with longtime shooting guard Gary Harris and the high-upside RJ Hampton to bring AG to Denver.

Gordon immediately bolstered the Nuggets as the team went on a seven-game win streak following the acquisition, including huge wins over Philadelphia and a fully healthy Clippers squad. Denver earned a top-3 seed for the third season running and went on to defeat Portland in the first round, even without Jamal Murray.

Now, recognizing his impact as the ultimate “glue guy,” the Nuggets are investing heavily in Aaron Gordon to the tune of a four-year, $92 million contract extension. Gordon flashed a ton of potential last season but that was in a relatively small sample size. Will he continue to be the missing piece for the Nuggets?

Best Case

In his media week availability Gordon told the Denver Post, “I felt disgusting coming out of those playoffs. I felt like my touch was gone, I felt like I wasn’t playing to the capability that I know that I can. It was ugly, especially that Phoenix game. And then I was just worn down.” Ultimately, Gordon revealed he had lingering ankle and hamstring injuries that bothered him during the playoffs. A 100% healthy Gordon will make a huge difference for the Nuggets.

More importantly, with Jamal Murray missing extended time it will be up to the rest of the starters outside of Jokic to step up. Gordon is an elite slasher and above the rim player, but just a career 32.1% three-point shooter (though he shot 37.5% on 4.5 attempts per game with Orlando last year before the trade and 39.1% in the playoffs). He will get opportunities with MPJ and Jokic likely to draw double-teams. If AG can raise that clip at a consistent rate, the Nuggets offense will be that more deadly.

Worst Case

Aaron Gordon accepts an invitation to the 2022 Slam Dunk contest seeking redemption, and heartbreakingly loses in the finals for the third time.

All jokes aside, barring injury the worst case for Gordon is that he simply regresses and can’t hit his shots. His defense is critical to the team overall, but his skillset offensively is well-rounded enough that he can’t simply just be a body on the floor or a dunker, especially without Murray. For the Nuggets to truly succeed this season, Gordon has to be even better than he was in 2020-21 for them.

Bold Prediction

AG continues to improve from behind the arc and finishes the season at 38.5% from deep on 4.0 attempts per game. Yes, Gordon will transform into a near elite three-point threat.

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