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Friday, October 19th, 2012 at 12:12 pm  |  55 responses

Top 50: LaMarcus Aldridge, no. 16

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players for ’12-13.

by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista

For a No. 2 draft pick, a lot of words are used to describe his potential success and expected dominance in the League. Patience is not usually one of them. While LaMarcus Aldridge may not have garnered the attention, minutes or stats, he immediately wanted—or that his selection in the Draft warranted—his willingness to wait has proven key.

It should be noted that Aldridge was drafted four spots ahead of Brandon Roy in 2006. His then-teammate quickly became the face of the Blazers on his way to winning Rookie of the Year. Soon, the phrase “bone-on-bone” became the norm in the Portland media, as Roy’s knees quickly deteriorated to force a lesser and lesser role on a team he once commanded. It was finally Aldridge’s turn.

Aldridge spoke to SLAMonline last season about the transition: “I went from being like Robin—trying to be Robin with Brandon Roy—to being Batman. From not really looked at as a closer of games to having to close the game, having to lead the team. It’s like day and night.”

Last season—Portland’s first full campaign without Roy—Aldridge scored 21.7 points and averaged 8 rebounds, which nearly matched his totals from the previous season. More impressively, Aldridge was the only player in the NBA last season to average at least 20 points, while shooting 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the line.

Over the past few seasons, he has become more comfortable in the post, and a more versatile scorer. According to hoopdata.com, Aldridge connected on 43 percent of his attempts from 16-23 feet last season. In comparison, Blake Griffin connected on 37 percent of those same shots, while shooting guard Kobe Bryant hit 41 percent. It also should be noted that since Aldridge has been in the League, the Blazers rank 25th with 79.6 field-goal attempts per game. Fewer possessions equal fewer points and rebound opportunities, as the pace has easily shaped his offensive and defensive stats.

While Aldridge has been a steady promise for the Blazers, garnering accolades including his first All-Star appearance and an invitation to USA Basketball tryouts, the team as a whole is trying to rebound from a lackluster 28-38 record last season. It will be tough for Aldridge to live up to his No. 16 ranking, coming off hip surgery and playing for a team in transition.

As Aldridge continued to develop offensively, Portland’s guard situation has been anything but steady. At first, the ball was in Roy’s hands for Aldridge to play off of. In ‘10-11, Andre Miller ran the show, which Aldridge described as “my easiest year offensively because he was so smart and so good with the ball.” Last season, Ray Felton and Jamal Crawford were largely failed experiments for the Blazers, and this year the ball will be in the hands of rookie Damian Lillard. For a player trying to rank among the League’s premier—especially at his position—he may become frustrated on a struggling team.

While the Blazers may be a few years away from contending, Aldridge—27 and coming off his first All-Star campaign—has shown that he can be patient. The only question now is if he’s still willing to wait.


Where should LaMarcus Aldridge rank in the SLAMonline Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14
48 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 13
47 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 12
46 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 11
45 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 14
44 Anthony Davis Hornets PF 13
43 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 12
42 Al Horford Hawks C 7
41 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 10
40 Danny Granger Pacers SF 6
39 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 11
38 John Wall Wizards PG 9
37 Monta Ellis Bucks SG 8
36 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 10
35 Roy Hibbert Pacers C 6
34 Tyson Chandler Knicks C 5
33 Eric Gordon Hornets SG 7
32 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 9
31 Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 6
30 Amar’e Stoudemire Knicks PF 8
29 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 4
28 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 3
27 Paul Pierce Celtics SF 5
26 Andre Iguodala Nuggets SG 5
25 Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 4
24 Josh Smith Hawks PF 7
23 Derrick Rose Bulls PG 8
22 Joe Johnson Nets SG 4
21 Steve Nash Lakers PG 7
20 James Harden Thunder SG 3
19 Pau Gasol Lakers PF 6
18 Chris Bosh Heat PF 5
17 Kyrie Irving Cavs PG 6
16 LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 4

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Best 4 in the L, imo.

  • Perry the PlatyPteranodon

    Personally had him as the best 4 in league, and 13th overall, I don’t see how either Love, Griffin are better than him, some arguments could be made for Nowitzki in terms of winning and all that, but Love and Griffin what the hell!

  • BRAVO

    LaMarcus Aldridge…….YUP

  • LakeShow

    I’d take Pau, Dirk, Love, and Josh Smith, over LA, but your entitled to your opinion.

  • spit hot fiyah

    doesn’t rebound well enough to be considered the best 4, since rebounding is one of main duties of power forwards. shoot the ball extremely well though, which sometimes works against him beacuse it seems like everytime he drives he gets a foul call, but he doesn’t drive to the hoop as much as a wish he would

  • spit hot fiyah

    and that high release of his is very rasheed-like

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    oh, why, thank you.

  • danpowers

    nice article nice rank. but love above aldrige!? come on guys!

  • Troy

    I see him more in the top 25 than top 20 but either way, Aldridge is smooth. Great high release, pair him with a strong wing and let’s see how far they can go.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    his rebound rate is higher than both Chris Bosh & Dirk Nowitzki.
    .
    The reason his basic RPG is so low is because he plays on the Trailblazers….the slowest pace team in the whole league (so there is less total rebounds to grab)

  • MrSuper

    Love gets more rebounds…

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Aldridge plays defense.

  • Nella

    Josh Smith over LA? Not sure about that one. The rest of the names I can see the argument.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i hope you realize Kevin Love is going to be like top 7

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Lakeshow’s reasoning is nonsensical.
    .
    If you feel Aldridge is not better than Josh Smith, then you can’t feel Dirk is better than Aldridge….logically speaking.

  • danpowers

    could you explain to me why? i just dont get it.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Simple, Love is top 5 in the League in Scoring – Love leads the league in Rebounds – A lot of people already feel he’s the best 4 in the league, especially people in the media. Oh, and the SLAM staff loves Kevin Love.

  • danpowers

    smh lol

  • LakeShow

    He’s the only one that’s debatable to me and so I will concede. They are both phenomenal players, I like the multi-faceted defense Smith provides more than the slightly above average defense and offense that LA does, but I could be wrong taking him over LA.

  • LakeShow

    Incorrect, I do feel I would take Dirk over Bosh in addition to Smith. If last year was more a fluke for Dirk anyway. If dirk is truly declined as a player than I would understand the argument.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    no, no, no, you don’t get it.
    .
    What Dirk is better at then Aldridge, is what Aldridge is better at than Smith. If you think Dirk is better than Aldridge, then you have to think Aldridge is better than Smith. – or Vice Versa.
    .
    You just think guys are better because you want to say it. Not because you have a real reason.

  • Yes

    If we’re talking fantasy bball I’m taking Josh Smith over LA everyday of the week. If they played one v one, I might pick LA. But JSmoove is a defensive beast. It’s tough.

  • Junior Taylor

    He is slightly better than Love in my eyes. Yes…..Love is a better rebounder and shooter (especially from deep) but LA is a better defender, low post threat that commands doubles and more efficient from the field.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Aldridge is really good defensively. idk why nobody notices this.

  • http://SLAMonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Remember: Injuries play a factor

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    yeah, but since when did you guys edit rankings after voting is over? Love just got hurt.

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    I still remember it like it was yesterday. “Please draft Aldridge, please draft Aldridge”….And the Toronto Raptors select…. fml.

  • LakeShow

    Naw, I get it.
    I already said i’d concede Smith. I can’t argue him over LA. I just prefer his game more.
    It’s not like you have great sound reasoning: “Aldridge is really good defensively. idk why nobody notices this.”
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • Datkid

    there is no way aldridge is better than bosh. He might be more productive but he’s not better

  • Datkid

    @2c2d045ee3e7ea7e43ec73223ac91c81:disqus @disqus_rOeXXBD2qs:disqus aldridge would have more if he played on a faster team

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i don’t have good reasoning because i said that? like i can’t back it up or something? of all the people here who say stuff you think i’m one of them just saying a random opinion without any evidence to back it up? really?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    @disqus_j65FuvcSML:disqus but you didn’t say you’d concede smith, you brought up Bosh. Basically your “incorrect” comment didn’t make a damn bit of sense lol

  • RG190

    I’d like to see him on a different team. Watching the Blazers play is simply painful…

  • LakeShow

    Ah no we all know Aldridge plays good defense. I don’t need your “evidence.”
    Still doesn’t change anything.
    Smith is a better passer, better defender, better rebounder. He is not as good as LA offensively, but even with that he only scored 3 points less a game.
    Smith’s got game, and LA just isn’t as special as you like to act.

  • RKJ92

    Loooooolllll omg I know… when they said Bargnani I lost it..

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Lol, I never said Aldridge is heads and tails better than any of those guys, and I don’t have any issues with you thinking some of them are better, as long as it makes sense. Which apparently rubs you the wrong way
    .

  • LakeShow

    Yeah i’m just raging pissed right now. How dare you think LA is better than Smith!!!! Argghh

  • LeroyShonuff

    My heart still hurts that my Bulls drafted this guy and then traded him for Tyrus. smh smh smh. I have him ranked right outside of the top ten. The only question I have is can he become a double digit rebounder. Best Pf in the league outside of Bosh in my opinion. Should have a monster year

  • http://SLAMonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    We edited John Wall after the rankings were completed…

  • LeroyShonuff

    Exactly… the media loves “Love”. Funny how a horrible defensive player who goes after his stats and doesn’t do the holy grail of great player attributes aka make his teammates better is loved.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Oh wow I didn’t know that y’all did that. So at least two of the rankings have changed since yesterday then. (love & Dirk)

  • MrSuper

    I don’t know, maybe yes but then again… Love can hit from long range and has shown clutch. Aldridge has a longe frame and bigger arms and can block shots, and yet again can’t use his physical tools to get more boards. But I would rate Aldridge’s defensive rating higher than Love’s… right now.

  • Dagger

    You mean Bargnani isn’t in the top 15? I know . . . life sucks for us Raptors fans.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    you’re probably hungry. grab a snickers.

  • LakeShow

    Yeah General Tso’s is calling my name, lunch time.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    defensively they aren’t close. Aldridge is heads and tails better. Love is just way way way way better on the boards, and probably better offensively, unless you want a 4 that you can run the whole entire offense THROUGH. then it’s Aldridge.

  • RipCity

    can you imagine him and d rose UNSTOPPABLE

  • KarimAbdul

    Personally, I think he’s better than blake since he has a more complete offensive game

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    Haven’t seen much of Aldridge, or rather what I have seen was disappointing. He’s no Blake Griffin or KLove that’s fo sho

  • http://SLAMonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Yes sir…

  • MrSuper

    Yep, better body and fundamentals on the defensive side. Plus a better passer as well. But he has his health issues (heart) and so we can’t be sure on his future development. Love has the potential to improve on D and is a bit younger. Right now though, all we can do is speculate.

  • http://twitter.com/beasleyfacebash ac

    I love LMA, one of my favorite players in the league. And, yes, he’s definitively a better defender than Love and a positive defender, for sure, but he isn’t a transformative defender, at least yet, and Love isn’t that bad of a defender anymore (he’s below-average in a vacuum, but getting to play in Adelman’s post-zone offense where he has set responsibilities that don’t overextend him allows him to be a Nowitzki-level defender–not good, but hovers around average/neutral).

    But his rebounding, even if we don’t compare it to Love’s (who in my book is the best rebounder in the league with Dwight a close second), is horrid. It’s like excruciatingly bad even if you consider the pace in which the Blazers play at and the rebounders he’s had to play next to (Camby and Wallace, mostly). It also doesn’t make sense because the dude is long as hell and should hypothetically be a monster on the board, but for whatever reason (it’s not that he has no effort I think he just doesn’t have the same effort as other rebounders do) he’s a really, really bad rebounder.

    You’re right about the post play, though. He was fantastic last year and I think it’s often overlooked just how freaking good he is in the post (and how little he is assisted on his shots).

    But he’s not a more efficientl player than Love.

    I think one of the biggest misconceptions about Love is that he’s an inefficient player and that mostly has to do with how poor of a statistic FG% is. Love gets close to half of his points from threes and free throws, which is why his FG% is so low. TS%, which includes the fact that three pointers are worth more than regular shots and FT%/quantity, shows that Love actually shoots 56.8% from the field. In contrast, Lamarcus shoots 56%. Love isn’t significantly more efficient, but he’s definitely not less efficient.

    I have Love is my 6th/7th best player simply because he’s upped his defensive game to the point that isn’t a liability anymore and that his offensive game is so, so transformative a la Dirk. His absolutely really, really good three point shooting and how often he shoots from there spaces the floor in a way that is only comparable to Dirk.

    I have LMA as my 10th best (because I’m a fan and incredibly biased, of course) simply because that rebounding is just really, really bad. If he upped his rebounding to at least above-average or good then I’d say he’s as good as Love, but until then I have my reservations. I’m rooting, and partially expecting, him to improve his rebounding next season now that Wallace and Camby have gone to other teams.

  • http://twitter.com/beasleyfacebash ac

    post-zone defense*, not offense

  • Matthew Hsu

    Lillard needs to be on this list.

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