“He can hit that.”
“That’s his sweet spot.”
“You can’t leave him open from there.”
These are all general statements you generally hear repeated over and over from the road announcers when watching League Pass broadcasts. That’s the book on him, and we all know it’s true, but as with any non-fiction, it’s also important to, every once in awhile, revisit the facts that they were based on and see how they’ve progressed. Warning: This might get number heavy, but I do provide visual aids.
Surprising nobody, Aldridge takes the 15th most jumpers from 15-23 feet in the entire league with 5.2 attempts per game, second among power forwards behind league leader Dirk Nowitzki (8.2 attempts) and ahead of Carl Landry and Kevin Garnett (4.8 attempts apiece). On occasion, Aldridge gets poor post position and takes his turnaround jumper from this far out, but most of these attempts are from pick-and-pop situations.
From 10-15 feet, Aldridge climbs the attempts ladder, taking 3.1 per game, “good” for 8th in the NBA and third at his position, behind Nowitzki (4.5 per game) and Elton Brand (3.5) and ahead of David West (2.9) and Chris Bosh (2.6). Other than Dirk and LaMarcus, only Michael Beasley maintains a consistent place in the rankings between the two mid-ranges. Some of these shots come off pick-and-pops, but we can take a solid guess in saying that these are the majority of Aldridge’s turnaround attempts.
From the latter range, 10-15 feet, Aldridge shoots 44 percent, leading Dirk (43.3 percent), Brand (43.4) and West (40.1) while trailing Bosh (46 percent) in efficiency. LaMarcus’ worst full month from this far out was November, when he shot a paltry 27 percent. His best month has been February, which has him shooting 51.1 percent and 55.9 over his last ten games.
From the former, 16-23 feet, Aldridge shoots 42 percent, leading Beasley (40.1), tied with Landry and trailing Dirk (48 percent) and Garnett (47). His worst month was December (39.2 percent), nearly edging his January (40.0). His best month was again February, shooting 45 percent and 44.4 over his last 10 games.
Of all his shooting months, by far the greatest outlier was his 27 percent November — with all centers healthy — from 10-15 feet, so keep that in mind when looking at his shot chart:
And Kevin Garnett, who might have the most similar shot to Aldridge of all the mentioned power forward. Garnett has a similar release point to Aldridge, sets his feet in the same way and the release times are very close in catch-and-shoot situations. Aldridge has also shown an ability to take a single dribble forward before shooting, particularly at the top of the key, which is something Garnett does fairly often:
As you can see, Aldridge is much closer in the mid-range to 33-year old, knee hampered Garnett than to 31-year old, MVP candidate Nowitzki. While Aldridge shoots very well from 10-15 feet on the left block, where he can turn over either shoulder to shoot, he doesn’t have a true “Hot Spot” from anywhere between 10-23 feet, as in he doesn’t approach 60 percent from any spot like the other two players do. He doesn’t have a cold zone, either, which might mean opponents don’t have an area of the court they try and push him to, but there’s something to be said for teammates not having an area of the court to work to get Aldridge the ball in, too. When the Blazers are going through growing pains next November, remember that it can be tough for guys like Oden to adjust to Aldridge when the versatile perimeter big doesn’t have any “Win Zones”.
Before you ask, Aldridge only shot above 42 percent in two of the eight charted zones during 2008-09, the left wing and the right block. With that, we can’t even say he’s been remarkably consistent from the left block.
It’s worth noting that Nowitzki has been remarkably consistent throughout the season, even after suffering an elbow injury due to Landry’s incisors. He had a couple sub-40 percent months from various spots, but nowhere near as bad as Aldridge’s November. Garnett, on the other hand, shot 33 and 30 percent from 10-15 feet in November and December, respectively, after an offseason knee injury (reportedly a removed bone spur).
While we can write off some of the grey area in Aldridge’s chart to the adjustment period during the 2009 portion of the season, it’s tough to put him on quite the same level as two similar-volume shooters when he is shooting sub-43 percent in five of the eight zones. That’s not to say he could approach their levels with a hot streak similar to what he did to finish last season, but consistency counts.