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Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 at 3:00 pm  |  82 responses

Top 50: LaMarcus Aldridge, no. 20

Portland’s star is knocking on the 20-10 club’s door.

by C. Vernon Coleman II / @Vernon_Coleman

If the Portland Trail Blazers want to stomp with the big dogs of the Western Conference in the ’13-14 NBA season, it starts and ends with their franchise player, LaMarcus Aldridge. Two years removed from the Brandon Roy era and it’s clearly the former No. 2 selection in the ’06 Draft’s team now. Young LA has been proving so with his dominant play on the court. But, even with his season-after-season consistency and All-Star-caliber play, Aldridge has just three playoff appearances and six playoff wins to boot. A statistic he will be trying to ratify once the season starts.

Very few bigs possess the 6-11 ball player’s size and skill set. The former Texas Longhorn is long, athletic, defensively solid, possesses an array of post moves and has been the Steady Eddie of the Portland franchise the last few seasons. Since 2011, he’s averaged at least 20 points and 8 rebounds. The 28-year-old also seems to be molding into the alpha dog role that his team needs him to hold down.

Last year, the gifted post player continued to make his push as one of the premier power forward/centers in the League averaging 21 points and career high in rebounds (9.1) and assists (2.6). He made his second consecutive All-Star game appearance, while continuing to improve passing awareness from the post and developing a solid jump shot from around 20 feet. He also recorded a beastly 38 double-doubles, which was good for eighth in the NBA, ahead of players like Al Jefferson, Tim Duncan, Joakim Noah and Blake Griffin.

But things didn’t go so well for his mob the Trail Blazers who finished 33-49 and failed to make the Playoffs for a second consecutive season, despite the emergence of what looks like a star in the making in point guard Damian Lillard. Aldridge’s yearning to play alongside a true center so he can man his natural position at the 4 also became more evident.

Over the summer, there were even rumors that he was ready to jump ship. Rumors he later denied, saying he was more so frustrated with how the season went down. During the offseason, the Blazer brass did their best to tend to the frustrated star’s worries by acquiring CJ McCollum, Robin Lopez, Dorrell Wright, Earl Watson and Thomas Robinson among others. The moves have seemed to quell Aldridge’s uneasiness. “I’m here, I’m happy. I’m looking forward to this season,” he recently told reporters during the team’s media day. “This team looks really good. We have a better bench. We have [Robin] Lopez, who’s a true center. I think this year should be good for us.”

Besides wondering what moves his team would make in the offseason, Aldridge hunkered down and worked on his own moves, reportedly adding a three-point shot to his repertoire in hopes to improve on his dreadful 20.8 percent average from beyond the arc for his career. But when all was said and done, Aldridge seemed genuinely pleased by Portland’s efforts to get him help. He was especially stoked about the acquisition of Lopez, which he thinks will boost his own game.

“Offensively I think he’s going to give me more single coverage. I feel like they have to put that bigger guy on him,” he said during media day. “Also, I think I will be able to crash the offensive boards more because I will have the actual smaller guy on me. Defensively I feel like him trying to block shots will allow me to block more shots.”

That all sounds good, in theory. Making it happen on the court is another thing. But, if you add the attention rising young star Lillard will also be soaking up, plus the threat of ever maturing Nicolas Batum on the wing, Aldridge’s stats could feasibly see a marked increase allowing him entrance into the 20-10 club after being denied inclusion last season. Most importantly, the team should benefit from his bump in numbers.

Though he slipped slightly from his 16-spot in last year’s SLAM Top 50 ranking, Aldridge will be a top-20 talent in the upcoming NBA season. With the influx of solid role players in Portland, LA should be able to put last year’s frustrations in his rearview and spearhead his squad to a decent playoff seed in the Western Conference. Then, it’s about the size of the fight in the dog.

Where should LaMarcus Aldridge rank in the SLAM Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 5
49 Luol Deng Bulls SF 10
48 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 14
47 Greg Monroe Pistons PF 12
46 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 9
45 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 13
44 Al Jefferson Bobcats C 9
43 David Lee Warriors PF 11
42 Jrue Holiday Pelicans PG 12
41 Anthony Davis Pelicans PF 10
40 Joe Johnson Nets SG 4
39 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 9
38 Kevin Garnett Nets PF 8
37 Rudy Gay Raptors SF 8
36 Paul Pierce Nets SF 7
35 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 11
34 Pau Gasol Lakers PF 7
33 Al Horford Hawks C 8
32 Andre Iguodala Warriors SF 6
31 Brook Lopez Nets C 7
30 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 6
29 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 6
28 Damian Lillard Blazers PG 10
27 Josh Smith Hawks SF 5
26 Joakim Noah Bulls C 5
25 Roy Hibbert Pacers C 4
24 John Wall Wizards PG 9
23 Chris Bosh Heat C 3
22 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 5
21 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 4
20 LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 3

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.

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  • spit hot fiyah

    i have been wrong leading up to the draft a lot of times, but i do remember that i though the raps should have picked him the #1 pick.

    good spot for though, seems like his career is almost going to waste in portland though.

    who else thinks of Rasheed whenever they see aldridge let that high release jumper fly?

  • ATL dynamite

    Aldridge has always been my man, but LA > Dirk > Duncan > Randolph? I don’t know man, didn’t see this from last season, too muchy yet to prove this year.

  • ATL dynamite

    Oh and I left out Bosh too. Wow this list is something else

  • i_ball

    “Aldridge hunkered down and worked on his own moves, reportedly adding a three-point shot to his repertoire in hopes to improve on his dreadful 20.8 percent average from beyond the arc for his career.”

    If he plans shooting threes I would rank him lower. Didn’t he watch Chris Bosh during the playoffs?

  • spit hot fiyah

    statistically he was better than dirk,bosh. and LA seems like he is still peaking, while dirk and bosh have passed their peaks

  • spit hot fiyah

    well in the writer’s defense, i think he actually meant to include making threes while mentioning shooting them.

  • LakeShow

    8 out of the next 19 players are point guards.

    LA should be ranked ahead of Griffin and Love. Griffin, because he’s better than him and Love because we don’t know if he will return to form this season.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Totally fair and good right up! I personally have him higher but that’s been the case for years

  • i_ball

    It doesn’t matter if he makes them or not. He should stick to what he does – post game and mid range. He is one of the very few players who actually have some really good post moves, perfect that and dominate games inside like a real big man does.

  • TR

    Why do you say hes better than BG? I dont think the numbers say so

  • Stepfan Raiford
  • LakeShow

    LA’s a much better defender. Has a more easily translatable offensive game. Is more steady and consistent.

    That’s my reasoning.

  • http://SLAMonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    To update one of my comments earlier in the Top 50, we’ll continue posting two players a day until we reach no. 15.

  • TR

    I think LA is great, cant knock anyone for saying hes the best PF or anything. Per 36 the numbers are close and advanced stats are either close or in Blake’s (Buh-la-kay) favor.

  • spit hot fiyah

    it was just a subtle shot at bosh.

    i agree though, his mid range is deadly. i wish he would drive it more though, seems like he gets fouled every single time he puts in the floor determined to get to the rim, which is not often enough

  • Shved a Tear

    @755d28f5c7e6b1af2fbe349b179fe220:disqus He’s also more reliable on offense with his mid range jumper. His decisions coming out of his crab dribble is pretty deadly.

  • Shved a Tear

    woah, idk how that @ came up…that was supposed to be to TR

  • Sérgio

    Let me play shockexchange role in here: this dog has never caught a rabbit, while Dirk and Timmy are wild wolves.

  • i_ball

    He has never been on team that can go all the way. So unlucky – Roy, Oden…

  • davidR

    blake top 20? eh…

  • shockexchange

    Shved a Tear, Timmy and Dirk applaud you ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9xhOQ26QYI )

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    because Aldridge is better than them? he is though……

  • Evan Boland

    KLove > Griffin and LA. I also LA might have topped out, unlike the other two.

  • Sérgio

    He never had a top-5 team, but he had very good teams, and if they had a “hunting dog” in them, he surely would’ve lead them at least past the first round, what Aldridge was unable to do.

  • LakeShow

    I agree.

    When healthy.

    Just as you think KB will not be phased by his injury, and I do, the same applies here. K-Love MIGHT take till mid-season to round into form.

    When he’s rolling, he’s the best PF the L has to offer.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    yeah, in hindsight definitely. But that was the year Dirk won his MVP and it looked like Bargnani was the second coming. Hype around Dirk really drove that draft.

  • http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjIeIA3G2s5UPQfRPYFyFDw Hart26

    Blake is in the top 20…..AND better than LA? No Slam, no.

  • Dagger

    The only thing is, if you’re projecting for production this season, Blake has more upside than Aldridge. I’m curious to see what Aldridge will do with so much three point shooting, but Blake can still make a big leap.

  • BugEyes

    He has shied away from the paint m, all he does is.shoot jumpers.now.sigh

  • LakeShow

    Once again, agreed.

    Blake could easily have a 20-10-3-1-1 on 50% year.

    Aldridge is pretty much guaranteed to be the better defender though.

    But LA should be right around 20-9-2-1-1 on 50% with better defense, so it’s arguable.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    @ddegroot:disqus – it is partly an issue about the way Aldridge is used. He’s like a secondary start to Portland’s offense. And he gets the vast majority of his possessions in the 15-18 foot area. so he’s not really utitlized like he probably should, which takes away some of his production.

    but defensively speaking, Blake Griffin is not coming close to eclipsing a full-effort Aldridge at any point in his career.

  • danpowers

    imo too low. i expect him to be the best 4 in the league as soon as his hip issue is fully healed.

  • Dundler

    Aldridge is far and away the better player than Griffin.
    People are mentioning upside for Griffin. Really? Has he ever showed marked improvement from season to season? I say no. He’s not going to be as great as people thought in his rookie season. Griffin is athletic as hell but doesn’t come close to using it like he should.
    LA is a more complete offensive player and lightyears ahead on D. There’s no question of him being better than Griffin in my opinion.

    As for Love…just needs to add some defence.

  • Kim Hargreaves

    LA Has game but is ranked way too high here for my liking, dude has peaked at his 20-9 averages and considering the minutes he plays those numbers should be higher, other than KLove no other 4 plays as many minutes as Aldridge and he still can’t grab 10 boards a game, something guys like Brook Lopez or Amare get killed for. Add in the fact that his Blazers have won nothing since he’s been ‘the man’ and he’s ranked about 10 spots too high.
    I also love how this write up is based around the great Robin Lopez making things easier for LA, smh.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    Duncan may not have better numbers but he has greater defensive impact than any of the pfs mentioned above

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    K I need fantasy help… I ended up with four Brooklyn Nets players (DWill, Pierce, Garnett and Joe Johnson). Would Kevin Martin be a better pick than Joe Johnson?

    (In other words should I try to trade JJ for KMart?)

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    how would compare duncan though defensively to aldrige?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    NBK help my fantasy team plzzz

  • Kim Hargreaves

    I would say Griffins game has stagnated because of the CP3 effect, where Paul has the ball for 99% of the possession. Blake hasn’t been given room to improve his game, his minutes have been down too, hence the drop in production.
    I agree LA is ahead on D but it will be interesting to see what effect Doc has on BG.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    NBKNBKNBKNBKNBK

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    no problem. whatchu need?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Duncan protects the rim a lot better. Gives much more consistent effort and production. Aldridge better on the pick and roll a couple years ago when they went to the playoffs. It’s hard to use the stats from last year, with Lillard out there being absolutely terrible. But Aldridge is not better, not even close. Duncan is amazing.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    what else do you have, scoring/efficiency wise? and is it categories or points?

  • Dundler

    I would agree with you. But then its also BG’s job to be fitting in with what is clearly a stronger team than the one in his rookie year. He just hasn’t gone off like people expected him to. I’d have him around 20, but not in front of Aldridge.

  • LakeShow

    He’s also a center…

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    My team is:
    PG – Deron Williams
    SG – James Harden
    G – Greivis Vasquez
    SF – Paul Pierce
    PF – Kevin Garnett
    F – Joe Johnson
    C – Joakim Noah
    C – Greg Munroe
    Util – Victor Oladipo
    Util – Kelly Olynyk
    It’s Yahoo! Fantasy and I think it’s by categories, like Points, Rebounds, Assists, FG%, etc.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    on my bench I got Rondo and Ray Allen. So basically I got the ’08 Celtics and the ’13 Brooklyn Nets, lol.

    And also, thanks man!

  • Dundler

    Now that we’re in the top 20 and Dirk has finally come, the next few on my ‘they really should appear by now’ list are George, Rondo and Griffin

  • tedong487@hotmail.com

    What do you think I should change? I feel like my rebounding is a little weak cuz Johnson is occupying a Forward spot.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    All Kevin Martin will give you Pts-3′s-%’s and Joe Johnson is going to get more match ups advantages. So it kind of depends, they are sort if a wash. I don’t think I would do it with your roster yet At least. Or see if you can upgrade another spot while shedding Oladipo? Id do that.
    - Oladipo and Martin in the same lineup is sort of contradicting your strengths

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Should I try to replace Oladipo with a big man?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Yeah I’d do that, Garnett may miss 20+ games so if you can grab a long term option at a big position that’d be my play. Any bigs from Denver or Portland available or on that guys roster?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Loool that’s awesome. And anytime fam, happy to help

  • LakeShow

    Rondo struggles offensively, Griffin struggles defensively. So i’d like to see them before PG.

    George is a beast on both ends. He should be top 15 imo.

  • Dundler

    Hmm I dunno. People have short memories with George. He struggled at points last year, but if he can make a jump to creating offence he goes way way up in estimation.
    I don’t think Rondo ‘struggles’ offensively, he just chooses to be a stat hog. But it’ll interesting to see how they figure his injury into things.

    Bigger point is we soon get to argue about whos in the top 10

  • TR

    I think BG will surprise ppl this year. He’s got way more potential than Aldridge ever did and has better numbers for his career.

  • LakeShow

    You’re right.

    He was flawed.

    Low FG%/eFG%.

    Low assists for how much the ball was in his hands.

    But this kid’s future couldn’t be any brighter.

    I fully expect a 18-7-5-2-.8 year from him next season. With an up-tick in scoring efficiency. You can tell he has his head on his shoulders and wants to take the next step.

    I think he will.

  • LakeShow

    His defense has always been terrible though.

    Of course his upside is higher though.

    It won’t surprise me if he puts up a 20-10 year at all.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com/ Dutch Rich

    That dog had hunt in him but lacked cartilage.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    true right now toward end of his career. how do you like the new backcourt of lakers.

  • TR

    Defense has gotten better each year. He’s got short arms for his height so that hurts him, but doc will make him serviceable.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    @ddegroot:disqus @disqus_j65FuvcSML:disqus When will lamarcus aldrige solidify himself as the best pf in the game? Does he need to go to a team with a better center playing by his side or should he make a positional change to center like Bosh did?

  • shockexchange

    (Rick James voice) “Cold-blooded … what more can I say?”

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    K so I’m thinking of forgetting Martin, and trading Joe Johnson for Andre Drumond. Is that a good move?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    It might be, yeah. But Drummond might not play like more than 25 mpg

  • spit hot fiyah

    nikos tzchikisvili agrees with u

  • Dundler

    I certainly think he can too. All the ingrediants are certainly there for him

  • King David

    Wade better be next

  • Jake

    They’re going to put Wade in the top 5, you watch. It’ll be LBJ, Durant, Wade, Kobe, Chris Paul.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    haha i forgot about that guy

  • LakeShow

    The front court is exciting. I always enjoyed Farmar and he looks to be back in the same groove. He’s decent defensively and said he plans to pick up full court on D, and try to annoy the apposing guards as much as possible.

    Stevey is dishing it like the old days still (see highlight to Kaman from last nights game) and hitting his shots with the same accuracy as ever.

    Steve Blake is one of the best off the bench combo guards imo. I know that sounds far fetched, but he’s one of the few guys(like Delonte West) that can run the point as well as he can play the off guard. So i’m loving having his versatility.

    Nick Young is explosive. Always enjoyed his game. He just needs to hit shots at a solid rate. Wes Johnson is a little injured right now so I haven’t seen much from him, but he seems to be the new long wing defender for the Lakers. He is being asked to D up on the best apposing wings when he plays.

    I’m really digging on the front court too.

    Kaman is looking really nice. In good shape, hitting jumpers, and dunking.

    Gasol… you should know how I feel about if your around here at all.

    Hill is a great big to have on a team. He’s Weggie Evans light on the boards, and can get you a block or two and 10 points in limited possessions and plays.

    I haven’t see Shawne Williams play since D’Antoni had him in NY. I loved him then. I’m hoping he can have the same shooting success with MD this time a’round also.

    Sorry did I go a little to far?? Haha

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    There ball movement has looked a lot better. How far will they go. They have the potential to be a lesser version of the spurs depending on how kobe adjusts his role to the team.

  • LakeShow

    They are potent offensively. Very potent.

    BUT, their defense is weak. AT best they are middle of the pack and that is not a contender IMO.

  • King David

    smh he shouldnt be tho he sucks now

  • Mike From Spain

    His injury was not a major one that keeps him unable to maintain a level of physical fitness. He’s even lost weight and looks more cut than ever. Last year, as he came back from the first hand injury, he shot terribly but his production was above average PER, Win Shares, every advanced stat loved him while shooting around 20% from three and about 40% from the field. Which goes to show, as soon as he hits the mid 30%s in 3pt FG%, and the high 40%s in overall FG%, he’ll be a superstar again. How far is he from shooting like that in games, idk. Shooting 20% from three, Love still holds his own against most PFs in the League. Crazy.

  • Guest

    too low.

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