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NBA Finals 2023 — How Aaron Gordon turned into a perfect fit alongside Denver's offensive hierarchy


Not even the Nuggets’ front office knew they would get a key championship contributor when they traded for the ex-Magic forward in 2021.
MIAMI — Calvin Booth would love to tell you that he and the Denver Nuggets front office foresaw a night such as Friday when they traded for Aaron Gordon in March 2021. That they’d run all the models and scoured hundreds of hours of tape on the burly forward and saw something in him that portended he’d be as perfect of a fit alongside Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray as he has been.
But in all honesty, the Nuggets general manager says, they were just looking to replace the production they’d lost when forward Jerami Grant left in free agency in 2020.
“We didn’t realize how talented he was,” Booth told ESPN after Gordon scored a game-high 27 points in the Nuggets 108-95 win over the Miami Heat to take a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals. “We didn’t realize what a consummate teammate he was and how willing he was to sacrifice.”
Gordon had a different reputation in his first six-plus seasons with the Orlando Magic than what he’s built for himself as the ultimate star-in-his-role player for the Nuggets.
He was the No. 4 pick in the 2014 draft, which comes with expectations of scoring and star power that never really fit well on Gordon. He tried to live up to them anyway.
“Knowing AG now, I understand it: He knows what a fourth pick is supposed to do,” Booth said. “But also there was no clear hierarchy. So he’s looking around like, ‘Is it me? Is it supposed to be me?’ He tries to fill that role but then gets critiqued for playing a certain kind of way.”Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon had a game-high 27 points in a Game 4 NBA Finals win over Miami. Megan Briggs/
Once Gordon came to Denver, all of that changed.
The Nuggets’ hierarchy had been set for several years. The team was built around Jokic and Murray. Michael Porter Jr. was next in line as a scorer. What the team really needed was defensive toughness and whatever Gordon could give them offensively.

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