Frank Vogel to play Aaron Gordon at small forward, go big for defense

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There are a lot of interesting pieces in Orlando along the front line: Serge Ibaka, Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo, Aaron Gordon, Branden Dawson, and Jeff Green can play some small-ball four as well. There seems to be a lot of skill-set overlap. The question is can all those pieces fit together and turn the Magic into a playoff team?

Frank Vogel is charged with putting the puzzle together.

And he’s going big. Last season Gordon did his best work at the four and spent the majority of his playing time there, but with Ibaka in town he will now be the three, something Vogel confirmed to Adi Joseph at The Sporting News.

“I think positions still matter in today’s NBA. But (Gordon is) comfortable playing both (forward positions). You’re correct in your assessment that he’s going to be playing mostly small forward on this team. That’s something I’m excited about because I’ve always been able to build some really solid defenses, and the foundation of those teams was defensive length and athleticism. This is what we’re going to have with this club, with either Vuc or Bismack Biyombo at the five and Serge Ibaka at the four and Aaron Gordon at the three, you’ve got a really long, athletic front court, which I think is necessary if you want to be a great defensive team.”

Vogel is known as a strong defensive coach after what he did in Indiana, and it makes sense that with the players on this roster the Magic should be a strong defensive team. There are plenty of shot blockers, there is length all over the floor, and in the right system Orlando will get stops.

Can they score is another question. This is where the pieces seem and odd fit, and there may not be enough shooting (outside of Evan Fournier). Gordon was better at the four than the three. Vogel will ask Ibaka to play more inside, Vucevic will need to take steps forward, Gordon must continue on his quick trajectory of growth, and the big question is if Elfrid Payton can run this show at a playoff level? We know what Scott Skiles thought of that idea, we’ll see if Vogel can make it work.