Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images
The Orlando Magic were on the receiving end of some bad news over the weekend. Aaron Gordon, their prized possession from this year’s draft, was ruled out indefinitely after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his left foot.
Gordon found out about the injury following the Magic’s loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday. After the game, the rookie said that his foot was merely sore and that it “didn’t feel like much at all.” Gordon thought he simply needed orthotics in his shoes, but an X-ray — done at the urging of trainer Keon Weiss — revealed a stress fracture in his foot.
The Magic have dealt with a number of injuries already this season, which is why Gordon’s absence is a blow to the team. Victor Oladipo (facial fracture) and Channing Frye (sprained MCL) both missed time to start the season, and Kyle O’Quinn has been nursing an ankle injury since Orlando’s season opener on October 28. With Oladipo’s return on Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks, the roster was finally starting to round out into full strength but 24 hours later, the news broke of Gordon’s injury, leaving the team with a void to fill off the bench.
Gordon has only been playing 15.0 minutes per game for the Magic so far this season, but he has already shown signs of both potential and growth in the early going. His defense has made a smooth transition to the NBA, and his versatility has seen him match up against small forwards and power forwards. The Magic have been 5.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Gordon on the floor, per NBA.com, which is the difference between them being a bottom-five defensive team and a top-12 defensive team.
On offense, Gordon has been able to knock down outside shots, an integral development for him to tap into his full potential. He is 11-for-21 on jump shots on the season, making up for nearly half of his made field goals. He is also leading all rookies in Player Efficiency Rating (15.3) and True Shooting percentage (.645 percent).
The Magic can afford to be patient with Gordon’s recovery. He is currently the youngest player in the NBA at 19 year of age, and with Orlando not expected to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season, there’s no use in rushing him back. The Magic are still focused on the future, which is why they’ll take their time and ensure that he makes a full recovery.
Nevertheless, the news comes at a bad time. Gordon was starting to find his feet with the Magic’s second unit, and he now has to start anew when he returns. He was developing a nice rhythm offensively and continuing to learn to play within the confines of Orlando’s system. Gordon also misses precious development time.
For the Magic, Maurice Harkless will now slide into Gordon’s role as the backup small forward while he recovers from his injury. Harkless is one of the team’s best perimeter defenders, but, unlike Gordon, he isn’t capable of guarding power forwards. Orlando can only hope that Gordon isn’t out for too long.