Monday, September 20th, 2010 at 1:00 pm  |  73 responses

Top 50: LaMarcus Aldridge, no. 42

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Jeremy Bauman / @JBauman13

“I think that’s an area where he’s ready to evolve, is that mental aspect of taking his game to another level… I really believe that me coming here — and we’re gonna get three straight weeks of work in, five days a week, in the middle of the summer … which I think says a lot. That commitment, and especially the work that we are doing, this is grueling, taxing work,” explained Portland Assistant Coach Bill Bayno over the summer.

This summer, the 6-11, 240 (wait, apparently he’s upped his weight to 260 pounds) multi-skilled forward spent his summer in Dallas, TX training his ass off and we here at SLLaMarcus AldridgeAMonline think it will pay great dividends.

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.

After attending the University of Texas and proving that he had the necessary skills and ceiling that was worthy of being selected as the second overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft (by Chicago traded for Tyrus Thomas), Aldridge is now entering his fifth season in the League. While LA has shown flashes of dominance and has been expected to up his game constantly, he just turned 25 years old and should be entering the prime portion of his career. As a generally accepted rule of thumb, big men tend to advance/hone their repertoires at a slower rate than the way that guards advance their skills. Aldridge is a guy who is extremely skilled but the hardest part is putting it all together—figuring out how to show up with a consistent effort on both ends night in and night out, which brings me to my next point.

Back in 2008 Portland was an upstart team that was chosen by many to challenge the Lakers for Western Conference supremacy in the years to come. Sure, the phenomenal play of Brandon Roy played a big role in the media’s decision to anoint Portland as a future contender, but the emergence of the Aldridge sure had a hell of a lot to do with it as well. Sure, Brandon Roy might be the leader and unquestioned go-to guy for the Trail Blazers, but in Aldridge they have a potential second dominant scorer and post presence if he can package all of the skills that he has worked so hard on together on the offensive end, and becomes hungrier on the defensive end—especially on the boards.

Although it is tempting to expect LA to have been in double figures in the rebounding department by now, remember that he is a young player who is still learning the ins and outs of NBA basketball, that he might have been slightly under weight for his position, and that he seems to be on the right track in terms of off-season work. Considering all of the above, don’t be shocked if his rebounding numbers increase by 2-3 per game in the 2010 season. If Aldridge is really up to 260 he should be an absolute force on the block on both ends. He already averaged 2.7 offensive boards for his career so it’s mainly defensive rebounding that he has been lacking—something that comes with work on positioning, strength, heart, and determination.

For purposes of comparison to other stalwart players with similar frames and games, let’s take a look at some statistics that a few other eventual HOF caliber power forwards, Dirk Nowitski and Kevin Garnett, attained after four years in the League and see how LA stacks up to the competition:

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%

Although he might be a bit behind these players from a productions standpoint at this point in his career, the table is certainly set for Aldridge to rise above his current competition and become one of the elite at his position in the NBA today while also elevating his Portland Trail Blazer squad from unlikely success stories just a few years back to expected contenders for years to come in the Western Conference.

So then why, you may ask, is LA ranked at No. 42 on this year’s version of the SLAMonline Top 50? Well in case you haven’t noticed, the NBA as a whole is on the rise. The speculation that I have discussed about Aldridge’s somewhat expected advancement on both ends is just an expectation. Until he actually increases his nightly production and becomes even more consistent, there are too many talented players ahead of him to simply rank him on expected upside. Hopefully next year we can look back on this and say that Aldridge has turned himself into a consensus top-20 player.

Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 11 10
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 10 9
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 9 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    i dont hate him. but he needs to stop jacking up too many outside shots and be a little more aggressive..

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Man, I expected a big season from him LAST year. It never came.

  • LeoneL

    co-sign J on LA becoming more aggressive. I think somebody in here already said that almost no PF today is putting power in power forward anymore. Guess it has to do with plenty of PF being forced to play C.

  • Kas

    working out five times a week during summer isn’t what I’d call putting in work when you’re making millions playing ball. And how do you expect LA will work on his heart and determination? You have it or you don’t, LA obviously don’t. And in KGs 4th season, he was a 20-10 guy.

  • http://google c_cantrell

    iv been expecting him to break out every year and it never happens and its not gna happen until the dude starts trying to hit the board and grab more than an insulting 7 boards a game.. dude has a good shot yes but is a horrible rebounder and average defender on his best nights

  • Overtime

    I’ve always liked Alridge. But a couple of years ago the Blazers seemed on the tip of really pushing for a WCF run.
    It hasnt materialised somehow. (mainly injuries obv) but Alridge needs to have a big name for himself this year, its got to be the year for him

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    that was a nice read…but the ranking is stupid, double teamed all year being the number 1 option without half team injured, he had an acceptable season, to go from 39 to 42 isnt right, in a season where he carried a 50 win team offense while Roy was injuerd…oh well, he should average 20 10 with his skills and become a top 20 player, hope its this season!

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?clubcode=oly&pcode=AQU GIANNIS BOUROUSIS

    So…..anybody seen her…?

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?clubcode=oly&pcode=AQU GIANNIS BOUROUSIS

    by the way…..:the annual “ultimate world bball ranking” coming soon. (After i get back from my weekly vacation. No, ain’t going looking for Anna..)

  • unrel

    not sure how i feel about LA.. overrated?.. over-hyped?.. unfair expecations?.. not sure how i feel about him.. dude is skilled.. no question about that.. but right now.. he reminds me of david west.. here today.. gone tomorrow.. is david west still an all star?..

  • The Lord of Nsam (formerly known as Fresh Prince)

    Will not take him over Noah

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I’d take Noah over him too. Interestinly enough, whenever I saw LA play I’d just be p*ssed about the Bulls trading him away for Ty Thomas, but I guess that’s a non-issue now.

  • http://screwjams.tumblr.com cramzy

    the KG and Dirk comparisons but things into perspective a bit, but the way people gush about dude and the position he’s in (plenty of pt and opportunity to be the guy) I really feel like he gotta go 20-10 this year.

  • Overtime

    Question for all. Think we must agree David West isnt on this list. Is Kevin Martin? Is Luis Scola?

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?clubcode=oly&pcode=AQU GIANNIS BOUROUSIS

    It is impossible to left Scola out of a serious top-30 bball list.

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?clubcode=oly&pcode=AQU GIANNIS BOUROUSIS

    Let’s put it another way: Argentina is no-3 bball nation in the world and Scola is it’s second best player. Enough said. (at the same time it’s a SLAM list so….”anything is POSSIBLE!!!!” as KG screamed 2 years ago…)

  • dma

    Well to be fair, Nate is too enamored with the iso-Roy offense. The only guy he puts down low consistently is Oden, and we all know how that worked out. Aldridge is a good stretch-four, but he’ll probably never make it as a 2nd player in this offense.

  • wottywo

    Aldridge, I can see him making the list because of his offense, he needs to get focused and get more serious about his skills. Right now Aldridge should be considered one of the best(if not the best big man in the game today) but in order for him to get that type of hype, he needs to get better. If he gets better, then the Blazers would be the second best team in the West.

  • Pingback: SLAM has LaMarcus Aldridge has 42nd best player in league | Rip City Project | A Portland Trail Blazers blog

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    ^^ what

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    Nice write up. Someone call Lang – Muscle Watch is back! If he’s really 260 maybe this will finally give him an inner fire to attack more and rebound better. His ceiling may be Amare-like but if after 5 seasons we’re still talking about upside, the words “3rd option” might start creeping in.
    Hopefully it’s the former.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Cosign Anton

  • ripslam

    This I cannot support. Aldridge is not better than Noah, Arenas, Odom, or even going-on-35 Ray Allen. The dude just isn’t gonna break out, it’s his fifth, sixth season now?

  • http://sfjklf.com Jukai

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Dirk average 23.4-9.9-2.4 48% his fourth year?
    And KG averaged 21-10.4-4.3 on 46% shooting?
    Did I read something wrong?

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Juks your right. I believe he be comparing career averages up to that point. BUT Dirk and KG were getting leaps and bounds better every year. LA has been largely the same since his 2nd year.

  • http://www.twitter.com/CFleguel The Stro Show

    I’m Picking Eric Gordon to be next.

  • http://www.shawnkemp.com Masr

    Kinda suxs this guy isn’t really going into the paint that much. We hate Amar’e because HE doesn’t rebound but this guy barely avgs 7 boards.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    If David West (who shouldn’t be on this list ever – any year, even when he is getting spoonfed 20 a game by CP3) is on the list again this year it better be in the next 1 or 2 spots.

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    @Jukai: those are the averages of the 4 years combined, LA averaged 18 8 2 50% last season, while seeing lots of double teams.

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    @Masr: those averages are from his 4 years combined, but he rebounds like sh1t also cause normally has a dominant rebounder in Oden, Prizbilla or Camby alongside him..but hes a bad rebounder for sure, he gotta get 10 boards at least

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    @nbk: David West is a very nice PF, dont get your beef with him dude, top 10 at his position or close.

  • http://dsfjlkf.com Jukai

    Ah, I gotcha. Yeah, I see what the writer was getting at, but as NBK said, KG/Dirk were improving rapidly, LA is not.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    @TrailBlazing – so defense doesn’t matter? Or 19 pts and 7 rebounds now trump anything he could do on offense and vault him into the top 10? I have no beef with him, just the insistance on everyone to overrate him year after year. Per 48 Minutes at PF David West 25.1 Points and 9.8 Rebounds on 51% Shooting. His opponent 21 points and 11.7 rebounds on 48% Shooting. THAT IS NOT A TOP 10 PF.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    on defense**

  • JTaylor21

    LA is one of those wet tissue paper soft guys that bug the sh*t out of me. For someone to be 6-11 and athletic like he is and only grab 7 F*CKNG rebounds a game is beyond disgraceful, hell a mid 30s JKidd was grabbing 7 rpgs. LA just needs to watch some CBarkley and DRodman video and get inspired or something. Overrated a** clown, the Blazers would be better if LA was just a viable and trustworthy second option.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I just want to point out to everyone (JTaylor apparently being the most upset) upset that Aldridge only grabs 7 rebounds a game – The Trailblazers play the slowest pace in the league – Which means less rebounding opportunity’s. – AND he has never played next to a non-rebound dominant center. Marcus Camby, Joel Pryzbilla, and a little bit of Greg Oden. All three are grabbing over 20% of their teams available rebounds. All three are also above 12.75 per 36 minutes. In closing LA’s job is not to rebound and it never has been.

  • nat546

    Even though LA needs to grab more rebounds, you need to remember that his jump shot is probably the smoothest of any power forwards, and his mid-range is maybe second to Dirk. The rebound amount for the 2nd half of the season can also be excused because of the presence of Marcus Camby, who gets like 15+ on some nights.

  • JTaylor21

    nbk I understand why your reasons for defending such a BAD rebounder but it still doesn’t excuse a player of his caliber and one that’s always around the basket especially on defense to be grabbing the same amount rebounds as a perimeter guy like Bron. If I or anyone on this site was 6-11 with LA’s skills and athletic ability, we would be ASHAMED to be only grabbing 7 F*CKING rebounds. SH*T even Dirk who people falsely accuse of being soft and that plays in the perimeter more than LA, grabs 2-3 rebounds more a game than this putz.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Dallas plays at a significantly higher pace. Infact when Alrdridge is playing PF he is usually outrebounding his counterpart. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be better at rebounding, there is just a lot more to it then his f’n average.

  • http://www.dontevenreply.com total scrotal implosion

    He is who we thought he was. No d. Weak boards, very weak post game. Eh. Third option. Hee has had many chances to carry the team with roy out, hasnt happned. Its not him. David west is better

  • http://Slamonline.com Nbk

    David west is a worse rebounder and a way worse defensive player. Wins less too

  • JTaylor21

    TSI is right, DWest has gone farther in the playoffs and is twice as tough as LA. He’s also a good 3 inches shorter than LA and out-rebounds him. I can’t believe that people are defending this baby bottoms soft dude while they bash Dirk for being soft when he’s way tougher than LA could ever dream of. All I’m saying is that a 2nd overall pick has to be BETTER than this.

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    yup Aldridge is a good defender and has a nice post game, only weak rebounder…hes 1 of the few who actually can defend Dirk or KG for examlple, dont let the fact he doenst block many shots fool you

  • http://dsfjlkf.com Jukai

    NBK: You’re right, but Camby/Pryzbilla/Oden are continuously injured and LA’s rebounding never goes up. He’s pretty steady throughout the board (no pun intended). Everyone was expecting 20-10 when everyone else was injured and he kept chugging away, same as always. He never seems to pick up the slack and my opinion of him really went down. I was really worried that Portland would knock my Suns outta the playoffs, but LA’s absolute lack of stepping up in any single way let the Suns dominate all the games they won. He really doesn’t do much.

  • http://dsfjlkf.com Jukai

    David West is better, but honestly, David West is WAY more overrated

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Compare their playoff numbers, West and Aldridge are largely the same. Except Aldridge blocks shots. Alrdidge did have a 31 and 11 game in the playoffs against PHX Jukai. Then the Suns realized Amar’e is quite possibly the worst post defender in the NBA (outside of david west) and put Lopez on him but that’s neither here nor there. Look at their offensive and defensive statistics after you adjust for pace. Also take note that David West is NOH #1 offensive option. (assuming Chris Paul has the basketball and decides who the options are). Lamarcus Aldridge falls to number 2 on his teams options list. Plays for a much much much slower team. Rebounds MORE per Minute on the floor (even at a slower pace) Blocks MORE shots (even at a slower pace) and averages MORE rebounds per game then his OPPONENT. Which West only shoots 3% better and scores 2 more points. PS – where was david west without chris paul? how come Portland wins without their best players but NOH struggles without theirs? Pointing out who has been further in the playoffs is also pointless, David West is 4 or 5 years older and plays with the best PG in the NBA.

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    thanks nbk, cosign you…Jukai gonna hate cause he would like to have traided Amare for LA!

  • http://Slamonline.com Nbk

    I think any logical suns fan myself included would like LA over Trukoglu and Childress

  • http://www.dontevenreply.com total scrotal implosion

    Traillezzbo, u saying lamarcus is a good defender and a nice post game is an admission of not knowing sh7t about the dudes game, and speaks volumes to your overall lack of knowledge about the nba. Nbk, portland had a much deeper team than nawlins. Last seasons hornets without chris was emeka, west, and two rookies. Very good rookies, but that was the team. Portland had more quality players, its fairly simple

  • http://www.twitter.com/notebooknick NotebookNick

    David West is a bum. I agree 100% with NBK. Put him in another situation and he disappears. If he’s not the focal point, he’s not averaging 20/10. There’s a reason they put so much shine on Collison and Thornton last year in NO.

  • http://www.dontevenreply.com total scrotal implosion

    Dont be stupid nick. Hes not a bum. Hes a third option, just like lamarcus. Noh hit the rare double rookie jackpot, tho they did just trade the best young pg for ariza

  • Slips

    I still fail to see the logic in listing John Wall (or any other rookie for that matter) with other NBA players as if he’s already played in the league. Although unlikely, he could really struggle in his rookie year, or god forbid get injured. Just leave the rookies out of these lists.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ tsi: Just because he settles for jumpshots doesn’t make him very skilled, and if he maneuvered more in the post he’d be a really good post player. He doesn’t shy away from contact, I’ve seen him body up when he wants to–trust me. He looks soft but when he’s motivated he can be physical. That’s not always the case, however…

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Sh!t, “Just because he settles for jumpshots doesn’t mean he’s not skilled”************

  • Lenwen76

    Aldridge should be higher then 13th overall at his position .. Thats stupid ..

  • http://dsfjklf.com Jukai

    I’ll take Turk and Childress over LA. Really. LA never raises his game. LA was the -number one- option when BRoy was out, and his game didn’t raise. Even David West’s game raised a tid bit with Paul out. LA did nothing. This is my main problem with him— all arguments such as rebound heavy centers, lack of touches, odd minutes can be thrown out the window cause LA had his chance to play 40+ minutes and dominate. He decided not to do that. Skill or mentality, he did nothing.
    David West TRIED to carry that awful team without Paul. Didn’t really do much. But West gives it his all, while LA holds himself back. A David West giving it his all is a better player than LA cruising through a game.
    With an unhealthy Chris Paul, West is only a hair above LA. With a healthy Chris Paul, West is a head above LA. End of story.

  • http://Slamonline.com Nbk

    Jukai you have some weird pent up aggression towards lamarcus. Broy went out the blazers leaned on him and andre miller, they stayed in the playoff picture. Chris Paul went down, David West did nothing different his stats SUFFERED (he did not raise his game) then to keep the hornets near five hundred they depended on 2 rookies. Idk what you watched last season

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com hoopistani

    I like LA, but unfortunately, he seems to be the kind of player who has a medium-level peak and never quiet enters superstardom. He’s kind of like in the mold of a David West

  • mike

    needs to harden up defensively

    also i want to point out blazers are the most slow paced team in the L, his stats like all blazers players are deflated.

  • j

    Couple of things, with exception of last year, the Hornets have been a very slow paced team so numbers comparisons with LA are apples to apples. Go look at pace and you will see the Hornets right there with the Blazers.

    2, West’s numbers went up after Paul got injured, they didn’t suffer. Some of this is due to him traditionally playing better in the 2nd half BUT its also proof of him stepping up his game without CP, which kills these lame arguments that West is only good because of CP. If he can do it with a rookie guard, albeit a good rookie guard, then he can do it period. Having a high post forward like west in the pick and pop game will up your assists because its pass and shoot. CP gets him some open looks but he gets cp some easy dimes.

    3, D West is our second option. Paul is our first option.

    4, I’d take D’s jumper over anybody in the game including LA.

    5, Aldridge has gotten more press than West and has less to show for it year in and year out. It’s an outright lie to call him a good defender even with the blocks. And I’d rather take D West than the Charmin man in a one on one post situation.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    The hornets were worse with david west on the court then they were when he was on the bench. The trailblazers were better with aldridge in the game then when he was out. case closed

  • http://google c_cantrell

    I would rather have aldridge than i would have david west honestly guys.. i mean can yal not see how much more he could do with someone like cp3 spoon feeding him the ball all game as he does with west.. all his numbers would go up n he mite average bout 8 boards a game…… maybe….

  • http://gregoden.com roybot

    So much LA hate on here. Taking LA for what he is (18 ppg and 7 rpg) hes still the 42th best player in the league. And JTaylor we all know about the Dirk bashing that goes on even though any real bball fan can see that Dirk constantly gets to the free throw line with aggressive drives, so you dont have to bring that up every time you want to go hard on LA. On the flip side, I share your disdain for LA’s nature to hold back. He’s certainly got more physical tools than Dirk, but has never wanted to capitalize on it. Hopefully Bill Bayno is right and this summer was FINALLY the summer that LA has had enough with the negative talk and is toughening up.

  • Shan

    Even though Paul Millsap is a good 4″ shorter and has had to come off the bench behind Boozer for the majority of his career, yet he still manages to average nearly the same amount of boards over his career. It absolutely sickens me that Portland maxed this guy out. But then again the Blazers are the same team that caked up Wesley Matthews and are actually happy about it. I hope my Jazz draw them in the postseason, let them have HCA too it will be priceless to see Millsap beast their whole frontline all by his self.

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  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    This was an interesting discussion.

  • http://www.7msa.com/member.php?u=41316 Conchita Claburn

    Conferance Champions:ACC- MiamiBig Ten- Ohio StateBig 12- TexasBig East- West VirginiaC-USA- UCFMAC- OhioMountain West- UtahPac-10- USCSun Belt- North TexasSEC- FloridaWAC- Boisie State