As of tonight, the 2014 NBA draft is exactly four months away. And while it's true that June 26 isn't right around the corner, per se, it's never too early for GM's to pay their top prospects a visit. Of course, it's against league rules for team representatives to speak with these players while they are still in college uniforms. But there is no rule that says they can't take on the role of in-house spectator, and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is taking full advantage of that luxury.
Earlier this month it was Duke's Jabari Parker he went to take a look at. Tonight, Ainge and his colleagues find themselves in the Grand Canyon State to watch freshman forward Aaron Gordon and his Arizona Wildcats take on the California Golden Bears.
Ainge's whereabouts were first reported by Chris Mannix of SI.com on Twitter.
Boston G.M. Danny Ainge in Arizona getting a firsthand look at projected top-ten pick Aaron Gordon tonight
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) February 27, 2014
My initial reaction to the news was probably the same as a majority of others: why?
With Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk already in place, what good does it do to bring in another power forward (a raw one at that)?
Well, the most obvious answer to that question is that Ainge wouldn't be doing his job to the best of his ability if he left high-profile stones unturned. Gordon was considered to be amongst the cream of the crop in the 2014 freshman class at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately for him, he hasn't exactly lived up to all the hype like guys such as Parker and Andrew Wiggins have. However, there was obviously something about Gordon/his game that intrigued college scouts. There was something about him that garnered all of the attention he got before he even stepped on a college basketball court.
Gordon is a freak athlete and he has often been compared to the kind of player Blake Griffin was when he was at Oklahoma - a very good basketball player that could rely on talent alone to get by on a nightly basis. But it appears that as the season continues, Gordon's ceiling is slowly dropping lower and lower. He's not nearly as strong as Griffin was at that age and that has a negative affect on his ability to dominate games.
Another possible reason for Ainge's visit is that he believes the Celtics coaching staff will be able to mold him into a solid small forward. At 6'9, Gordon has the size of today's traditional swingman but he doesn't have the ball handling/play making ability and knack for scoring that is required to play the position at the NBA level. While his 33 percent clip from beyond the arc is somewhat promising, his 41 percent conversion rate from the charity stripe is not and that's not something that can be easily overlooked. He's also only averaging a measly 1.6 assists per game, which just goes to show that the Wildcats don't allow him to handle the ball all that often.
In all honesty, I don't think that trying to convert him into a small forward would be an ideal thing for the Celtics to do. I also don't think that they would actually try to but you just never know.
Ultimately, Aaron Gordon isn't the kind of player that Boston needs to go after in this year's draft. Unless, of course, they decide to take him in order to facilitate a deal for an established All-star caliber player, but even that doesn't make all that much sense given the current assets Ainge has at his disposal.
At the end of the day, going to see Gordon play is something that Ainge obviously felt was necessary. We may never know his exact reasoning for it but, if you ask me, Gordon hasn't done much to impress Ainge and Co. tonight. As of now, the Wildcat has tallied just six points on three of six shooting from the floor to go along with three rebounds.
That type of performance leaves much to be desired, to say the least.
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