Over at SLAMonline.com, the folks of SLAM Magazine have been putting together their top 50 of which they believe to be the “definitive ranking of NBA players”. Today they reached #42, and named a player Blazer fans are very familiar with: forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Here’s a taste of what writer Jeremy Bauman had to say about LMA:
There aren’t too many players who have the size and skill-set LA has, but out in Portland, OR the Trail Blazers have about as versatile a player at the power forward position that you could ask for. With a back to the basket game that seems to be improving year-in-and-year out, a solid mid-range game, and a great touch around the rim with either hand, Aldridge is in prime position to take his game to the next level.
Bauman also had a very interesting stat comparison, looking at Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett and LaMarcus’ stats after 4 years of NBA experience:
Dirk: 17.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2 APG, 45.4% FG%
KG: 16.7 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, 48.5 FG%
LA: 16 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 48.9 FG%
I think it’s a major league honor for Aldridge to be mentioned in the top 50 players in the league. The one thing that people are failing to mention about the 09-10 season is the growth that Aldridge went through. With all the injuries that went down and losing his sidekick in Brandon Roy, Aldridge got a lot more ‘big boy’ reps, aka being the focal point of defenses, seeing more double teams, etc. He may not have delievered the ‘monster season’ that some expected, but last season helped him more than a lot of us think. That playoff series against Phoenix where he went toe to toe with Amare, faced double teams, and showed a passion we haven’t seen a lot of, will only serve him well in this 10-11 season.
There’s no questioning that the 2010-11 campaign looks like it could be the ‘breakout’ year for Mr. Aldridge. It’s odd to put a guy in parentheses who has put up around 18 points, 8 boards on 49% field goal shooting over the past three years as a starter, but it’s true. He’s continued to show improvement each year that he takes the floor, which is always a good sign for a young player. With the departure of Carlos Boozer and Amare Stoudemire, Aldridge has a legitimate chance to become the All-Star that he–and Blazer fans–have desperately wanted to become. I think a lot of the Blazers 2010-11 success will be tied to how much more LaMarcus improves. It seems as if he’s put on weight, which can only help him down low on the block.
What do you expect from LaMarcus Aldridge this season? Will solid, team play do it for you? Will you be disappointed with his every year 18 and 8, do you need to see the numbers go up? Or will LaMarcus playing well on a winning team be good enough?