With the NBA preseason tipping off tonight, I wanted to share a few players I will be watching and expecting big things from this season. Follow me on twitter @AFeingold.
Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic)
The fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft turned 20 years old last month. Gordon had a strong summer league performance and will be entering his second pro season with a new Head Coach (Scott Skiles). Everything is pointing in the right direction for Gordon this season. Why myself and others will be bullish on him? Look for the 48 three pointers he attempted last season to rise as well as his points, rebounds, blocks and steals. I see the former Arizona Wildcat starting at some point this regular season and it could come as soon as opening night. The Magic are full of young talented players but to me Gordon has the physical tools to unleash his upside. In terms of a comparison I see a little Kawhi Leonard.
I know this is Summer league but his ball handling and jump shooting is what is impressive. We know his athletic ability can help with the rebounding and defensive side of the ball. My favorite highlight is the first one about seven seconds in you can see a nice step back jumper which shows he has been working on to improve his versatile game.
Otto Porter (Washington Wizards)
I have always been a fan of Porter going back to his Georgetown Hoya days. Coming into his third season at age 22 he finally has a clear role in the rotation. With Paul Pierce on the Clippers look for Porter to start at the three spot. What's to like here you may ask? In the postseason last year (10 games) he averaged 10 points, eight rebounds, 1.2 threes and 1.2 steals per game. More importantly his minutes went significantly up averaging 33 per game. He reminds me of former Wizard Trevor Ariza and Rudy Gay.
In this video you can see Porter is long and should thrive playing alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal. With the team improving spacing this year he will have plenty of open looks beyond the arc. Also I expect his defense to be a factor as he will have to be guarding opposing team wing players.
Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
An obvious choice here but let's just give the French big man some credit. Gobert played in all 82 games last year and with Enes Kanter traded to OKC last year it opened more playing time. In 37 games as a starter he averaged 10.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and one steal in 34 minutes per game. Based on the rebound and block numbers he would have finished Top 4 in both categories last year. He turned 23 years old over the summer and I expect his offensive game to improve from last season. Amongst all qualified centers last year he had the sixth highest PER and this was only at 26 minutes per game!
I have been following Gobert closely in the FIBA games and you can see the DeAndre Jordan comparisons with the dunk here. In some games he did not play big minutes but he still was able to fill the stat sheet. He has one of the longest wingspans ever measured at the NBA Draft Combine.
Hassan Whiteside showed his potential last season out of no where now it is time for these young players to do the same.
Written by Andrew Feingold
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