The League's Best Dunker Is Getting Dunkier
And more in this week's hodgepodge
Stat of the Week: 28.9%
Aaron Gordon is quietly having a monster season for the West-leading Nuggets. He’s their best wing defender, and he’s scoring 17.3 points per game. That is short his career-high by just 0.3 points despite sometimes being the fourth option on offense.
But the way he’s getting those points is fascinating. Gordon has figured out that Jokic will get him the ball wherever Aaron wants, and he’s responded by actively hunting dunks. As a result, Air Gordon is yamming on an astonishing 28.9% of his field goal attempts! His previous high in that metric was 17.3%, set last year.
This commitment to the slamma-jamma has resulted in easily Gordon’s most efficient season ever. He’s shooting over 60% from the field, a mark surpassed only by nine rim-running centers and Jokic himself (shooting an astonishing 62% from the field and re-establishing himself as a top MVP candidate yet again).
Gordon’s shooting fewer threes, true (and he’s hitting 39% of them!). But shots that used to be hooks and floaters, he’s now cramming down defenders’ throats. Putting smaller defenders on Gordon is death: he’ll seal the defender on his outside hip and await a pinpoint Jokic pass over the top.
It’s refreshing to see someone improve by just completely leaning into their strengths.
It’s the holiday season! Give the gift of basketball knowledge to your favorite friends, family, coworkers, or strangers! They’ll love you just a little bit more for it.
Thought of the Week: Looking back at preseason power rankings
As we pass the one-third mark of the season, I’d love to say that it’s becoming clear who is pretending and who is contending.
Before the season, I said that more than half of the league would try to win the championship this year. My tier list back in September looked like this:
Unfortunately, the picture has muddled even further. Three teams (not the same three, however) still stand above the rest, and then there’s a whole mess of groups that, with extra dollops of luck, could clamber atop the mountain.
Here are my updated rankings (remember, this is based on championship equity, not necessarily their current state):