ESPN recently released their controversial NBA Rankings, excluding the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony (No. 17) from their Top 5.
Atop the list sat none other than LeBron James with a nearly perfect score of 9.99. Next would be Kevin Durant (9.70), followed by the injured Dwight Howard (shocker, 9.58), Chris Paul (9.52), and Derrick Rose (9.02), who tore his ACL in the first round of the playoffs.
More importantly for Blazers fans, LaMarcus Aldridge’s stock is on the rise. With a score of 7.99, the Blazers’ centerpiece has made a name for himself as a dominant offensive presence. And with the addition of the point-producing mastermind, Terry Stotts, we should continue to see a spike in Aldridge’s net worth over the next few years.
But is No. 20 yet another slap to the face of one of the better PF’s in the game?
Miami PF, Chris Bosh (18.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG), scored an 8.04, and is ranked 18th in the ESPN Rankings. Pau Gasol (17.4 PPG, 10.4 RPG/15th, 8.24), Blake Griffin (20.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG/14th, 8.25), and Dirk Nowitzki (21.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG/11th, 8.64) were also put ahead of L.A., and Kevin Love (26.0 PPG, 13.3 RPG) cracked the Top 10, landing the No. 7 ranking with a score of 8.86
How many of those forwards really belong ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge?
Aldridge’s Stat Line: 21.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 22.73 PER
They’re going to automatically give Bosh the benefit of the doubt because he contributed to Miami’s championship run this season, but L.A. has a more refined post-game, shot a better percentage from the field (.512 vs. .487), and averaged the same amount of blocks and steals as CB4 last season.
L.A. should be ranked ahead of Gasol, as well.
We know Pau wasn’t the first or second option on offense last season (Kobe and Bynum were), and with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash coming to Los Angeles, he’ll probably drop down even more. But the fact of the matter is that L.A. boasts a higher field goal percentage on more shots, leading to more points per game and a higher player efficiency rating than Gasol.
Let’s talk Dirk Nowitzki.
Up until a certain point in the season, Dirk was god-awful. He couldn’t find his stroke, he was extremely turnover prone, and he just didn’t look like the Dirk Nowitzki that had just won the NBA Finals. He turned it around once he was voted an All-Star, but LaMarcus Aldridge was consistent all season long (up until his injury). While Dirk is a far superior shooter, he’s lacking in areas that Aldridge excels in.
L.A. is a better rebounder and defender than Nowitzki, and arguably has a better back-to-the-basket game outside of jump shooting.
It’s very close, but could Aldridge be, at this point in his career, an all-around better power forward than the 2011 Finals MVP?
Let’s call that two-and-a-half down.
I’ll accept the fact that Kevin Love is a better rebounder than Aldridge. I’ll also admit that he’s got more range and is an equal or slightly greater shooter than him as well. But even though L.A. isn’t known as an inside presence, he’s still more of a defender than Love at his best.
Blake Griffin has superior athleticism, but he lacks the skill set to be an elite power forward in the NBA for a long time. (Thishat’s a topic for a later discussion.
Aldridge, Love and Griffin all belong in the same category, but to have Bosh ranked before the Rip City hero is almost disrespectful
So what do you think?
Did ESPN snub LaMarcus Aldridge out of a ranking this year?