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Key Matchup: Aaron Gordon is the problem that needs Draymond Green’s attention

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Green will have his hands full stopping the imminent ascent of the young Magic power forward

NBA: Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a soft spot in my heart for the young power forward, Aaron Gordon. He’s a Bay Area product, attended Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, and damn near brought the Dunk Contest back to life.

He’s not just an athletic phenom, though. The brawny 6-foot-9, 220 pounder’s game is maturing before our eyes in his fourth season. Last year, he averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds per game on 45% shooting (28% from beyond the arc). This year Gordon is averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds per game, with an uptick in the shooting percentages (51% from the field, 43% from downtown).

He has improved his ball handling skills, which is facilitating the development of some nasty face-up moves. His defenders are rightfully obsessed about keeping Gordon from getting to the rim. I mean, if he gets into the lane with any momentum, there’s an extremely high chance he could really deliver a devastating dunk that sonic booms some poor defender straight into a YouTube clip that will be played for the next three decades.

Ouch.

So yeah, defenders usually back off of him to brace themselves against his tsunami-like force. In years past, this gave him issues, as he didn’t have the offensive repertoire to counter. This year, he can use his nifty dribbling and improved outside touch to knock down the open jump shot. Once his jumper gets going, then the defense is forced to press him tighter, which immediately returns them squarely back into the original “fear-of-being-posterized” dilemma.

“I have to work on being more decisive,” he said. “I think I’ve got a lot of tools in my bag right now, but sometimes I get caught up into using too many at once. Once I start reading the defenses and get more comfortable, stuff’s gonna come out. I think the sky’s the limit for me.”

— Aaron Gordon to SF Chronicle last season

It appears the young man was quite honest in his personal assessment. Let’s check out what he did against that mighty Oklahoma City Thunder front court and their third ranked defense a couple nights ago.

Oops! Right idea, wrong clip.

This detonation of basketball greatness against OKC elicited a glowing response from around the league about the ascension of the young high flyer.

That poise and perseverance spurred another spectacular performance from Gordon, who shot 13-of-23 from the floor, 6-of-12 from 3-point range and 8-of-11 from the free throw line. He also stuffed the rest of the stat sheet with 15 rebounds, four assists, four steals and one block.

In his fourth season with the Magic, Gordon is the first player since Dwight Howard in 2010-11 to score 40 points or more multiple times in the same season. He also joined Howard, Shaquille O’Neal and Tracy McGrady as the only players in franchise history with multiple games of at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in the same year.

—Josh Cohen, NBA.COM

Gordon’s confidence and game are expanding exponentially with each quarter he plays. Pretty soon, I bet he won’t be relegated to only the dunk festivities at All-Star weekend: he’ll be playing in the All-Star game itself. That would be a dream come true for the Bay Area kid!

Draymond Green looks to defer those dreams

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

WAKE UP AARON GORDON!!! The screaming alarm clock that is Draymond Green and the Warriors defense isn’t here for your highlights, maturation, or any of that crap. Green, the All-Star, Olympic Gold medalist, Defensive Player of the Year, and elite troll, relishes in breaking spirits. He salivates for opportunities to crush another big man’s hype bandwagon. With Kevin Durant still ailing, look for Green to match up early and often with the young monster.

Don’t forget, Gordon was shackled to a subpar evening when his Magic lost in Oakland earlier this season. He struggled to a 10 point, 10 rebound, 3 turnover performance on 4 of 13 shooting (2 of 7 from distance).

With a desperate Orlando crowd behind him, I’m sure he’ll look to atone for that difficult learning experience. Green will have to meet that energy head on to shut down the bouncy forward.

I have no doubt Green will.

How many points do you guys guess Gordon is going to score in his second go-round against the Dubs this season? I’ll shout out the winner in my next write up!