Frank Vogel expects to start Aaron Gordon at small forward next season
Magic head coach Frank Vogel has a bold solution to the dilemma posed by the influx of bodies into the Orlando frontcourt this summer: start Aaron Gordon at the 3.
In the team’s introductory press conference for new signee Bismack Biyombo on Thursday, Vogel was asked how he plans to juggle his lineups for next season with Biyombo, Serge Ibaka, and Jeff Green all joining the mix down low this summer to go along with Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic.
“With Serge probably starting at the 4, [Aaron] would probably start at the 3,” Vogel said. “But the way the league plays in today’s NBA, you have to the ability to play a guy like Aaron at the 4. A guy as versatile as Aaron is, what position he plays is a lot of times predicated on the players around him. Serge Ibaka’s not here, then he’s the 4 for us. Serge Ibaka’s here, he’s gonna play the 3, and we’re gonna be really long, and that’s exciting.”
The 20-year-old Gordon is known at this stage of his career as an elite dunker, but he’s a long, athletic defender who has both the foot speed and the strength to check multiple positions on the defensive end, including small forwards. Gordon is still developing his three-point shot (he connected at a 29.6 percent clip on 142 attempts from deep last season), so he could clog Orlando’s spacing from the small forward position should he not show vast improvement on his jumper. But starting him next to an elite floor-stretching big in Ibaka and a lights-out midrange shooter in Vucevic should be a workable fix for Orlando’s offense.
With his ability, as Vogel mentioned, to shift down to the 4 in certain matchups alongside Green or Biyombo, Gordon should be the pivot that unlocks all sorts of juicy lineup combinations for the Magic next season. And while Vogel ran somewhat imperfect rotations during his time with the Pacers, he looks to be up to the challenge of finding minutes for all of his talented new toys in Orlando next year.