After capitalizing on a 118-115 overtime win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the San Antonio Spurs remain as one of the league’s premier powerhouses. There’s always been the chatter about the simple brilliance of Head Coach Gregg Popovich, or the outstanding growth of a Forward Kawhi Leonard.
Fact is, they’re getting it done.
However, we know that the regular-season means absolutely nothing for San Antonio, and they wouldn’t hesitate to tell you. It wasn’t easy losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a six-game result of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
But if the Spurs want any chance of defeating the Golden State Warriors in the upcoming postseason, it’s a testament that All-Star Power Forward Lamarcus Aldridge needs to play at a much-higher level.
Note that Aldridge scored sixteen while pulling down twelve rebounds — with six assists and two blocks in San Antonio’s road-win over Cleveland. And as for someone who signed a four-year, $85 million deal in the summer of 2015 — he hasn’t played at an All-Star caliber level that we’ve became accustomed to, since he put down that pen.
But the reason isn’t because he hasn’t played well (which he has), he’s had to take a far backseat to the upsurging Leonard. And as a result, it obviously hasn’t been an appropiate situation for Aldridge to showcase his once-proficient play.
Check the stats.
ALDRIDGE’S FINAL TWO-SEASONS IN PORTLAND (140 GAMES):
- 3 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 9.3 FGM, 20.3 FGA, 46% FG.
ALDRIDGE’S FIRST TWO SEASONS IN SAN ANTONIO (114 GAMES):
- 8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.2 FGM, 14.0 FGA, 51% FG.
And for obvious reasons, San Antonio’s well-documented “system” through Popovich shouldn’t go unnoticed. With Aldridge taking less-shots, plenty of his scoring columns have taken a hit. Other than looking towards Kawhi Leonard to be the main focal-point of San Antonio’s offense, the scoring pressure has to be taken off of Leonard, and given to Aldridge himself.
Aldridge averages 27.6 PPG per 100 possessions via basketball-reference, and it’s just something that he does naturally. Whether it’s with his back towards the basket, screen-and-rolling, or facing-up, Aldridge is still the most natural-scoring Power Forward in the game in my eyes. Whether he can do it in San Antonio, remains to be seen.
As I’ve said earlier, the Spurs are nothing less than a candidate for the Western Conference Finals. With Lamarcus Aldridge not getting as many touches as he did in Portland, it hurts him. This is someone who was a consistent first-option for so many years with the Blazers, and even at age 31, he still has so much left to give.