Is LA the NBA’s best PF?
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.
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.