SAN DIEGO – Aaron Gordon didn’t hide from the truth.
His first postseason in Denver was not what he envisioned after requesting a business out of Orlando last winter. At first, the role he played against Portland and Phoenix in the playoffs was not close to the role he had played before Jamal Murray was injured. And second, he was not healthy.
“I found it disgusting to be out of those playoffs,” Gordon told The Denver Post last week. “I felt like my touch was gone, I felt like I wasn’t playing to the potential that I know I could. It was ugly, especially the Phoenix game. And then I just screwed up.”
Gordon said he was playing through a sprained ankle and a hamstring injury he sustained the season before. After being overwhelmed in the playoffs, Gordon approached the office with an open mind. He bounced between gyms in Denver, Los Angeles and Orlando determined to improve a sour playoff run and validated the Nuggets’ decision to trade him for him.
He first worked on his jump shot, where his off-season repetitions have already yielded results in training camp. Teammate Jamichael Greene, the first to note Gordon’s improvement, said he could tell he was more confident in his 3-point stroke.
“My first pick-up game with the team, he was killing there,” Green said.
Another off-season focus was playing to his strengths – “body work – using my physical ability, physical gift to dominate people.”
Together, Gordon gathered an offseason that not only drew rave reviews from his teammates, but one that caught the attention of his head coach.
When Gordon was in Denver this summer, he and coach Michael Malone brainstormed the best ways to unlock his full potential. Only a few days into training camp, Malone mentioned playing off his athleticism, starting offense with him, feeding him on post, or using him in isolation.
“Aaron’s versatility is special,” said Malone, who undoubtedly played a part in the four-year $92 million contract extension the Nuggets awarded Gordon this summer.
In Gordon, the Nuggets have their leading guard and a strong force that can add layers to Denver’s offense.
“We want there to be a lot of people who you (the team) have to double up on,” Gordon said. “You want (Jokic) on the block, you have to do a double. You want mpj you have to double the screen. You want me in the block you have to double, so it will be difficult for the teams. You can’t double all those people.”
Underneath the work, Gordon had an underlying drive that was buried during a losing season in Orlando.
“Last season, I popped my hamstrings in the bubble, so I couldn’t do anything over the summer,” he said. “I could barely run, I could barely walk. I couldn’t do anything. My mind was out of it, especially coming out of that bubble. Quick change (for the new season). My fire, my passion, my drive just wasn’t there
“I’m so (strange) excited that Denver brought me in and embraced me because it’s given me new life. It’s really my fire around all these friends who can play so well, and love the sport.” are, and like to win like true contestants.”
With the Magic, Gordon said he actually experienced too much business and too much agenda for the organization to pursue a championship.
“In my experience, from year to year, different coaches, different general managers, different players, everyone had different incentives,” Gordon said.
In Denver, where he has made himself part of the core of the Nuggets, Gordon is rejuvenated and eager to show that he was worth his investment.
“I can’t think of a better place for me and my career at the moment, to play with these guys, to play with this organization, to continue to learn basketball, to contribute to what it means to win at the highest level.” .. it’s where I need to be.”