Lamarcus Aldridge Takes the Back Seat

The odds are stacked up against him yet again. As the injury-depleted Spurs fell to the Warriors, it has been clear LaMarcus Aldridge has been the guy. Trade talks surrounding Kawhi Leonard are heating up, there has been one guy who has put his head down and continued to spur the team in a positive direction.

In a sense, LaMarcus has taken the backseat to the foremost headline. Whether it be Damian Lillard’s rise to stardom, Tim Duncan’s farewell tour, or Kawhi’s confusing injury status.

The real question remains unanswered. How much has LaMarcus provided for the teams he has played for? I’m going full Bill Simmons for this one and peering behind a veil of ignorance.

 

Player A

34.6 minutes 19.4 PPG 48.8 FG% 8.3  RPG 1.9 APG

Player B

32.4 minutes            17.6 PPG 52.1 FG% 5.1 RPG 3.0 APG

Player C

37.1 minutes 20.8 PPG 47.9 FG% 9.8 RPG 4.2 APG

Player A

864 games

6 all-stars

MVP Placements- 10th and 7th

96.6 Win shares

20.9 PER

0 Rings

Player B

926 Games

7 All-Stars

MVP Placement- 12th

81.2 Win shares

17.7 PER

3 Rings

Player C

831 Games

5 All-Stars

MVP Placement(s)- 7th, 9th, 4th, 7th, and 10th

84.7 Win shares

0 Rings (1 appearance)

20.7 PER

If you didn’t already figure it out; Player A is LaMarcus Aldridge, player B is James Worthy, and player C is Chris Webber.

Worthy, the high flying small/power forward was known for his complementary role on the Showtime Lakers, benefitting by playing with two legends; Magic and Kareem. LaMarcus really never got the chance to play with a superstar; Kawhi got injured in game 1 of the 2016-17 playoffs and didn’t recover for this season.

Webber hopped from team-to-team, diminishing his career value to hall of fame voters. A member of the Fab Five, it is at least somewhat surprising that he has not cracked the hall of fame while his star peers; Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and Jason Kidd, have been inducted. While Aldridge has never had the superstar reputation Webber maintained during his heyday, LaMarcus has superior advanced statistics outpacing Webber in win shares, true shooting percentage, and plus/minus.

Aldridge, at age 32, could still add to his resume. He holds a career-high in PER and anchors the best defensive team in the NBA. His defensive win shares are at a career high as well.

Aldridge has been the best player and second-best player on perennial 50 win teams for the past 12 seasons. He has ceased to play less than 52 games and has averaged 17 points per game 11 out of his 12 seasons.

I am sure he would have still put up those numbers had he stayed with the Blazers, as Popovich admitted himself he had wrongly utilized Aldridge as a Spur through his first two years. “As discussions went on, it became apparent to me that it really was me,” Popovich admitted. “He’d been playing in the league for nine years. I’m not going to turn him into some other player. I could do some things defensively or rebound wise. But on offense, I was going to move him everywhere. That was just silly on my part — total overcoaching. So, we took care of it, and he’s been fantastic.” He has been fantastic because Pop has let Aldridge be himself, let him take those contested fadeaways on account that they will fall.
He is currently 101st in total points, 106th in total rebounds, and 108th in total blocks. There is really no part of his game that stands out as unique, aside from his whirling fadeaway.

His player comparisons are extremely volatile. His career win shares stand 0.16 higher than Vlade Divac’s, 6.16 shares higher than Amare Stoudemire’s, and 8.51 shares below Rasheed Wallace’s. These guys all fall into the category of the borderline Hall of Famers. Is Aldridge part of the Hall-of Very Good? He may need that extra something to boost his resume.

Let’s say Aldridge averaged about 16 ppg for the next 4 years. In this case, he will hover around 21,000  career points. All-time, that would place him around 45th all-time in scoring, nearing Joe Johnson.

Rebounding wise, if he put up 8 rebounds per game for the next four years he would place around 80th, hovering near Bob Mcadoo’s career total.

If he continues blocking shots at a similar rate, he will place around 90th all time. None of these statistics are exceptionally noteworthy, and I am sure hall of fame voters will take his averageness into account.

Last year, Kawhi could make a case for MVP, while the Spurs sat comfortably in second place in the loaded West at 55-27. The exciting team looked like they could come out of the West if one of the splash-bros on the Warriors went out with an injury. Now, they are relying heavily on career role-players Davis Bertans and Bryn Forbes. Unreliable point guard, Dejounte Murray, brings the ball up and they lost Kawhi-lite, Jonathan Simmons. They are not the Spurs of the past, and that ultimately spells major trouble for Aldridge’s hall of fame case. Perhaps the missing puzzle piece is a championship.

Clearly, there are a myriad of variables being projected and obstacles Aldridge faces as he continues to make a case for the hall of fame.

But for now, it looks as if LaMarcus Aldridge will take the back seat yet again, this time costing him a shot at the hall of fame.

 

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