Trail Blazers: ESPN analytics rank Anthony, Aldridge atop decade’s best shooters

LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, All-Star Game, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, All-Star Game, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

ESPN’s analytics highlighted the best shooters from every spot in the 2010s. LaMarcus Aldridge and Carmelo Anthony headlined four Portland Trail Blazers players at No. 1.

Over the turn of the decade, former Portland Trail Blazers star LaMarcus Aldridge and current star Carmelo Anthony have taken turns as the unofficial public enemy No. 1 in the age of analytics. In what was once viewed as an aesthetically-pleasing measure of skillful brilliance, turnaround fadeaways and midrange pick-and-pops having become frowned upon in this Generation-Z version of the NBA.

But, earlier today, ESPN showed each of their playstyles a bit of admiration during Kirk Herbstreit’s study in finding the most efficient (and successful) scorers on each zone of the court.

The two future Hall of Famers headlined four different past-or-present Portland Trail Blazers players to be recognized as this decade’s best from a specific spot, with Trevor Ariza and Wesley Matthews also making appearances.

For nearly 15 years, Aldridge has posted your favorite big man somewhere on the block, and activated every cheat code in his book. During the 2010s, Aldridge made 1,051 shots from the deep-left side of the floor, more than any player in the NBA.

With his hook shot as an adjunct specialty and the turnaround as his primary, the Blazers star conflated that into a move that not even the best interior stars could stop.

Thirty seconds later, Herbstreit transitioned to the NBA’s best left wing scorer, hitting 942 shots in between his time as a Portland Trail Blazer and San Antonio Spur.

Last summer, we entertained the question of Aldridge’s turnaround fadeaway being one of the all-time great go-to moves in the history of basketball. Perhaps dominating a 3-point decade with that left block shot moves the needle?

Scoring in that zone has thrown him into elite classes through-and-through. Aldridge is one of only three players to score 1,000 or more points in every single season of the decade, joining LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. It’s translated to winning, too. The Spurs have been a +4.9 since Aldridge’s arrival, the Blazers owned a +4.2 net rating.

Opposite of Aldridge on the left block, Carmelo Anthony proved to be the most effective right baseline scorer in the NBA. Though the bulk of that came during Anthony’s prime with the Nuggets and Knicks, Anthony’s 757 made field goals paced the entire NBA.

Anthony rode that right baseline to a scoring title in 2012-13, and, contrary to popular belief, made his teams better with his bucket-making. The Nuggets owned a +5.4 net rating with him on-floor, vs. a +1.86 with him off. In New York, he pushed the Knicks to their best season since 1999, and pushed the Knicks to a +0.19 on, and -3.41 when off.

Joining them, 3-and-D specialist Wesley Matthews made an appearance, making more 3-pointers from the left corner than any player in the decade with 323.

It certainly helps that he was always available. Matthews earned the sobriquet “The Iron Man,” for having not missed a game in four of his first five seasons. And only four players – Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson and J.J. Redick hit more than Matthews’ 1,555 made 3-pointers, too. That’s a lot of bow-and-arrow celebrations, no?

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And, on the opposite side of Matthews, Trevor Ariza made more 3-point shots from the right corner than any player this decade, with 375 makes.

On that aforementioned list, Ariza ranked No. 11 with 1,388. Ariza’s contributions to Portland are germane to this discussion; this accounts for his work with the Houston Rockets (twice), New Orleans Hornets, Washington Wizards (twice), and Phoenix Suns.

If nothing else, it speaks volumes to the amount of offensive specialists the Portland Trail Blazers have brought into the organization. The glaring lack of Portland’s two current stars, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, though, were somewhat of a surprise.

If Herbstreit loosened the parameters to involve the areas far beyond the 3-point stratosphere, Lillard would be a sure thing here.

As for McCollum, it certainly doesn’t help that his prime was interlocked in between two different decades. He’d be a shoo-in here too, given that he’s been the No. 12 scorer in the entire NBA in terms of raw points, since he’s been a featured option, higher than the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.

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The ESPN video itself was as entertaining as it was informal. It also had its fair share of surprises, highlighted by a few of NBA’s history most decorated scorers ranking among the least efficient in certain zones. The entire 12-minute breakdown deserves a watch. Here’s the link to that video.