Rip City’s LA
Name: LaMarcus Aldridge
Position: Power Forward
Last Week’s Stats: 25.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.0 BPG
Through one week of the 2013-14 NBA season, the Portland Trail Blazers have seen a number of strong performances. Nicolas Batum is the only player averaging 10 rebounds per game—not to mention the only player with a triple-double—and Damian Lillard is showing us that he’s ready to soar as a sophomore, as he’s posting 25 points per game.
But while those two have dominated early, it’s LaMarcus Aldridge who earns the first player spotlight of the season.
LaMarcus Aldridge spent his summer dodging questions about trade requests. Some wondered if he’d be his usual self entering the new year, and to those people, we’ll gladly point you in the direction of the stats sheet.
Through three games, Aldridge is averaging a team-high 25.7 points per game. He’s also averaging 6.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists to go along with a solo block shot.
The truth is that the big man’s rebounding numbers have to improve as the year moves forward. He possesses the size and athleticism to control the glass, and while Robin Lopez will likely be the No. 1 rebounder by the end of the year, Aldridge must at least improve on the offensive glass—a place he’s dominated in years past.
What’s most impressive about Aldridge’s stat line is that he’s shooting an impressive 53.8 percent from the floor. Three games is an incredibly small sample size to make any long-term assumptions, but it’s encouraging to see that he’s hitting his jumper at the highest rate of his career.
That’s a big reason his PER is so high at 24.31—the second-highest mark on the team behind Damian Lillard.
Off the stat sheet, Aldridge has passed the eye test with flying colors. He’s making shots in every fashion imaginable: facing up, with his back to the basket, at the rim, in the mid-range, turnaround jumpers, spins to the rim…you get the idea.
There’s very little defenses can do when he’s feeling it, and right now, it goes without saying that he’s certainly feeling it.
Aside from rebounding, the other area of improvement needed for Aldridge is on the defensive end.
He’s yet to get lit up, which will lead some to believe he’s done a sufficient job, but when it comes to L.A., there’s always room to grow on that side of the floor.
More specifically, helping out players like Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews in pick-and-roll situations. The team as a whole needs to improve that area, and while it will mostly be Robin Lopez dealing with it up top, today’s spread-4’s will force Aldridge to step up and help out more as the season goes on.
The power forward is off to a hot start, and the hope is that he can sustain.
He’s a two-time All-Star for a reason, and if he wants to make it three years in a row player at All-Star Weekend, he’ll need to keep up the pace well into the new season.
Look for Aldridge’s points to drop a bit as the bench sees more time, but don’t be shocked, either, if his other numbers increase with less pressure to score.