trailblazers

Where does PDX’s LaMarcus Aldridge rank among NBA power forwards?

Is LA the NBA’s best PF?

LaMarcus Aldridge is coming off a career year for the Portland Trail Blazers and has emerged as one of the NBA’s top power forwards heading into the 2012-13 season.

The competition is stiff, but while you can find talent in every corner of the league, Aldridge has to be considered a candidate for the best at his position.

Here is a look at the NBA’s top power forwards:

5) Pau Gasol

Despite a bit of a drop off last year, Pau Gasol remains a big-time rebounder and scorer with the Los Angeles Lakers.

4) Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki continues to dominate the offensive side of the floor as he enters his 15th NBA season.

3) Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin needs to improve his jump shot and defense, but his athleticism and rebounding ability makes him a big-play threat.

2) LaMarcus Aldridge

With the departure of Brandon Roy from the Trail Blazers’ roster, Aldridge officially took his game to another level in 2012.

The 6’11” forward has always had a good jumper, but his range has begun to extend closer and closer to the three-point line. Aldridge can shake left and go right, shake right and go left, or simply rise up and score over defenders with his ridiculously high release.

Having shot a career-high 51.2 percent from the field last year, it’s clear that his shot was on all season long, but the real reason for the boost in efficiency has to be the drastic improvement Aldridge has shown when it comes to scoring in the low post.

His ability to shimmy-shake a defender is great for his fadeaway jumper, but at this point in his career, it’s also a great tool in getting above the rim with the ball in his hands.

Aldridge has never been known as a force down low—and he’s still not likely to be in some circles—but he’s taken big-time steps over the past two years and he’s now a legitimate threat almost anywhere inside the arch.

However, the part of his game that has seemingly improved the most is his leadership.

When Brandon Roy was still in Portland, he was the man and Aldridge was his sidekick.

At times throughout his career, Aldridge has looked passive in his attempt to take over games, and while it’s still in his nature to be quiet, it’s now his responsibility to remain aggressive.

Aldridge & Roy

When Brandon Roy was still in Portland, he was the man and Aldridge was his sidekick.

Just in his demeanor alone, Aldridge showed a new swag last year and an increased aggressiveness when attacking the basket.

Fans in Portland have been waiting to see that since his rookie season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With such a young roster set to play in 2013, Aldridge is not just the team’s best player, he’s the team’s ultimate leader.

The one player who Aldridge has not surpassed? That would be Lake Oswego native Kevin Love.

Love referred to himself as the game’s best power forward this past season, and while that’s a bold claim for such a young player, he’s arguably correct considering his own individual success.

In 2012, Love averaged 26.0 points, 13.3 rebounds and led the league with 48 double-doubles in55 games played.

That being said, the two players at the same position couldn’t play in any systems that are more drastically different.

Love has played in Minnesota his entire career, and they have played at one of the fastest paces the past few seasons.

His numbers are better, but more possessions and more shots equate to more highly inflated numbers.

Aldridge’s career-high 21.8 points and 8.7 rebounds in 2011 came in a season where the Blazers ran the slowest pace in the NBA.

With fewer possessions to put up numbers, Aldridge’s statistics are that much more impressive.

Numbers aside, Love’s passing skills are unchallenged by NBA bigs, his rebounding mentality has been much more aggressive and his ability to spread the floor extends beyond the three-point line.

At this point in their careers, Love is the best power forward in the game, but Aldridge is right there behind him and will compete for that title all throughout next season.

1) Kevin Love

His defense is suspect, but Kevin Love’s offense and rebounding abilities make him statistically the best power forward in the NBA.

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About Bryant Knox

NWSB Editor. Portland native and Oregon graduate, On a non-stop mission to consume as much Ducks+Trail Blazers content as humanly possible. His love of sports is what attracts him to the game, passion for writing drives him to uncover the stories. Connect w/ Bryant today!
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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1662947012 Brian Newell

    I’m sorry, but Love is not the best PF in the game today. How many times has Love been to the playoffs compared to Aldridge? Granted, we didn’t make it out of the first round, but we still made it. Plus, Minnesota has yet to have a winning record with Love on the team. Also, in my opinion, a great player doesn’t just play great, he inspires his teammates to play better as well, and Portland players have done that. Maybe not this past season, but they have still played better. Love has yet to inspire any of his teammates.

    • Bryant

      Thanks for the read, Brian.

      I think that Love’s skill set and production make him the best power forward in the game right now. His toughness is better than most expected and his versatility keeps him engaged despite needing to drastically improve defensively. His winning percentage is a great reason to leave him out of MVP conversations, but when thinking about positional rankings, he has to be a favorite for the No. 1 spot.

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