Soon-to-be draftees find themselves in awkward positions

Soon-to-be draftees find themselves in awkward positions
May 18, 2014, 12:45 pm
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BOSTON -- Aaron Gordon has the kind of talent that could benefit just about any NBA team.

But first, teams must figure out where to put him.

Gordon has been a standout post player with above-average athleticism his entire career.

But at 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, he'll find himself matched up against players with better quickness and athleticism than those he had to defend at the University of Arizona. Or if he continues to be primarily a power forward, he'll have to contend with taller, stronger foes.

The path Gordon finds himself going down now is well-worn by players coming into the league every year.

Philadelphia drafted 6-6 Michael Carter-Williams last year to play both guard positions, but he spent most of his first season in the NBA at the point and finished as this season's Rookie of the Year Award winner.

Boston's combo guard, Avery Bradley, was asked to play some point in the past before it became abundantly clear that putting the 6-2 guard on the ball for an extended period of time doesn't work for Bradley or the Celtics.

But in Gordon's case, there are clear signs that his adjustment to playing a different position than he's used to, won't be overwhelming.

In the shuttle run, which measures a player's agility and ability to change directions, Gordon's time of 2.76 seconds was tops among all players at last week's NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago.

And his lane agility time (this tests a player's agility and lateral quickness) of 10.81 seconds was tops among forwards and centers, and seventh overall.

Gordon knows NBA teams aren't totally sure of where to put him, but he has a pretty good idea of where he fits best.

"I'm a forward; I'm a basketball player," said Gordon, who interviewed with the Celtics at last week's pre-draft combine. "I can pretty much do everything out there. That's what I intend on doing."

UCLA's Zach LaVine is another likely first-round pick with an NBA game and no specific position.

At 6-6, he has the size to play either guard position. And while he says he's open to playing whatever position he's asked, it's clear that LaVine envisions himself as a point guard.

"It's fluid to me," LaVine said of playing the point. "I've played it my whole life. I can see the floor and I can play defense as well."

That holds true for Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, who played both guard positions for the Cowboys. Smart sees himself as a point guard, but added that he's very open to the idea of playing off the ball in the NBA as well.

"I just feel whatever team picks me, wherever they put me, I'm gonna go out there and do everything I can at that position to help the team," said Smart, who also spent some time with the Celtics in Chicago. "If it's at point guard, I'm going to embrace that position. If it's not, it's not."