The trade that sent Serge Ibaka from the Magic to the Raptors opened an opportunity for 21-year-old forward Aaron Gordon to slide from the three to his natural position at the four, writes John Denton of the team’s official website. The third-year man is readjusting to the defensive responsibilities of the power forward position.
“I need to become a better shot-blocker because I missed plenty of opportunities where I could have at least altered shots,” the Magic big man said of his first game back at power forward on Thursday night. “I was unsure of the timing, when to go and my positioning on the court.”
Previously the Magic had been using Gordon as a perimeter defender charged with the task of checking the opposing team’s best scorer. “I’m used to not over-helping and over-committing because I’m usually guarding the best player on the floor,” Gordon said. “Now, that’s not the case and I have the leniency to go help and block shots.”
There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
- Undrafted rookie Rodney McGruder is making a name for himself as a scrappy, pest of a player, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. The forward has played a substantial role on a Heat team that has done nothing but exceed expectations this season. “He’s always head first, nose first into everything,” teammate Wayne Ellington said. “He makes it hard for guys when he frustrates guys.“
- Backup center Willie Reed is day-to-day with ankle bursitis and didn’t travel with the team for Sunday’s matchup with the Mavs. With Reed out, the Heat will turn to veteran Udonis Haslem or an out-of-position James Johnson to handle duties at the five, says Winderman in a separate piece for the Sun-Sentinel.
- The Wizards have some adjustments to make with offseason acquisition Ian Mahinmi back in the lineup and newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovic still settling in, writes J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. “We’re trying to find some consistency,” said head coach Scott Brooks. “Getting Ian back, hopefully we can get him back to a stretch of games where he can play and build a chemistry with the group he’s out there with. Now Bojan so we can have him out there with that group. It’s consistency and understanding where we can get some points. I got to try to figure out what’s the best minute-wise and who plays and the matchups.“