Top NBA Players: #22 LaMarcus Aldridge

Apr 6, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) waits for play to resume against the Dallas Mavericks during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Trailblazers defeated the Mavericks 99-97 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

LaMarcus Aldridge
Resume: 21.7 points (7th in league), 8.0 rebounds, 36.3 minutes, 51% FG (career best), and 81% FT… Team record in games played: 26-29 (2-9 without)… All-Star

When I read that Sporting News ranked LaMarcus Aldridge as the 2nd best power forward in the NBA I have to admit I was slightly shocked. Even after I read that Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett (natural power forwards) weren’t added to the list because they spend a fair amount of time playing center for their teams, it still didn’t quite make sense to me since I had Aldridge ranked as the seventh best power forward in the NBA. First, let me say that I think as time goes by there is going to be less and less emphasis on positions in the NBA since the game is evolving so much and players are being taught from a young age to be able to play every position instead of just one. Second, saying that Aldridge is the seventh best power forward in the NBA is in no way supposed to be an insult to him. In my top 50 I have roughly 14 power forwards (again, it depends on how you classify certain players) and there were 4 more in the 15 toughest omissions. Saying that Aldridge is 7th best, and 22nd overall is a huge compliment.

Perhaps my ranking of LaMarcus Aldridge is a bit unfair. The only plausible weakness you could find in Aldridge’s game is that he isn’t an elite rebounder, and you can make that same argument against Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, and present day Kevin Garnett. The list of things Aldridge does well dwarfs the negative list. He’s an efficient scorer who can get his points posting up or stepping outside. He’s a willing passer, good defender, and smart basketball player. So why the heck is there 6 power forwards ranked ahead of Aldridge? I thought about if any of those six teams would rather have their power forward for one do-or-die game or Aldridge.  In all six cases I couldn’t see Aldridge being the guy picked.

Maybe I just didn’t see enough of Aldridge last year. That isn’t how it was supposed to be, 5 years ago. The way this should’ve worked out was a Portland Trailblazers run of success with Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Greg Oden. Well, that isn’t exactly what happened. It turned out Brandon Roy’s knee ligaments were made of Play-Doh and Greg Oden didn’t just look like a 70 year old man, he was also as fragile as one. Now Aldridge, the only remaining piece of the short lived trio that was supposed to turn Portland into a title contender, is alone and the apparent centerpiece of a rebuilding effort. Blazers coach Terry Stotts has said that he plans on using Aldridge the same way that Dallas has used Dirk Nowitzki over the years. Well for Portland to have the success that Stotts had when he was in Dallas they’ll need a lot more than just Aldridge doing his best Dirk Nowitzki impersonation (I say he gives a pretty damn good one). Does Nic Batum make the next step this year after junk punching Juan Carlos Navarro during the Olympics? Will Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard have successful rookie campaigns? Can Adam Morrison make the Blazers roster? I hope for the sake of Aldridge the answer to all 3 questions is yes. And I hope he proves me ranking of him wrong.