More on LaMarcus Aldridge, the two-time All-Star
LaMarcus Aldridge has maintained that he was as surprised as anyone that he made the 2013 All-Star game. The day after also appeared to be quite the surprise for him.
On Friday after practice, the media scrum cornered Aldridge as he leaned against a stanchion underneath a basket.
“Geez Louise!” Aldridge exclaimed when several microphones elevated toward his lips. “Did I just re-sign or what?!”
The attention might have been a bit much for him, but Aldridge should have been used to it by now. Aldridge, who averages 20.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game (more on that statistic in a moment), made the team last year as the Blazers started the lockout-shortened season at 14-10. This year, the surprise might have been that Aldridge made it in while his team was dropping six games in a row.
When the latest announcement came down early Thursday evening, Aldridge said that he was with his young son as several cheery “Congrats!” text messages began to flood his phone.
“My mom called me and she went crazy,” said Aldridge, who also received phone calls from other family members. “I was definitely surprised. I think it’s good for this city, this organization and my teammates. I’m just happy about it.”
Aldridge certainly had the numbers – the Blazers love to point out that he and LeBron James are the only players in the NBA averaging at least 20 points and 8 rebounds – but did not build up his hopes in winning a spot on the 12-man All-Star team.
“I just felt like this year I wasn’t going to get in. I felt like (Steph) Curry or one of those guys would get in over me, but I got in.”
“I definitely feel like I deserve to be there but I went through so many years of not making it, I always think that I won’t make it now.”
Aldridge played it so that he wouldn’t get disappointed if he did not make the team, but has maintained confidence in his All-Star pedigree. Besides the points and rebounds, Aldridge has improved his passing. Through his career, Aldridge has averaged 1.8 assists per game but his 2.5 this year will be a new best.
“I’ve seen double teams, even triple teams last game (against the Indiana Pacers),” Aldridge said. “So I think my passing overall has gotten better.
The All-Star reserve selection will always spark debate and displaced rage, and the Inside the NBA crew provided both during the airing of the announcement. I thought Charles Barkley jumped the shark a bit while pretending to be that angry for Curry (Golden State Warriors) not making the cut… c’mon, do we really need to march down to city hall and fight against the travesty of leaving someone off the All-Star team?
On the reasonable debate side, Chris Webber expressed some surprise over Portland’s guy making the team.
“I like Aldridge and I put him on the list,” Webber said during the telecast, “but I actually thought Damian Lillard has been the best player on that team all year.”
This speaks to the is L.A. underrated and underappreciated question I posed in Friday’s column. In the eyes of coaches, clearly the answer is ‘no.’
Here are the full quotes from my conversation with Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw. I wanted to speak to an opposing coach and Shaw has seen a lot of Aldridge since his rookie season while he worked as an assistant on Western Conference rival, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Shaw discusses how opposing coaches view Aldridge
“Obviously, you want to get to him. His length bothers a lot of teams. He has a high release point on his jump shot. We call him a laser, a two-point laser, meaning if you give him an open look from anywhere inside the 3-point line, there’s a very good chance it’s going to go in.”
“He’s a focal point probably of most teams’ scouting reports and now with Damian being here, those are two guys – we say that you don’t want to let teams hang around because they have playmakers that can hit big shots for them, and they have those two guys.”
On Aldridge’s evolution as a player
“I think more probably just his experience or just his recognition of his opponents and where he may have the advantage of certain guys both offensively and defensively. Usually it takes a couple years to figure that out and I think he has that.”
On the knock against his rebounding
Context: the question was posed with the anecdote that Barkley loves to say a power forward who doesn’t get rebounds should be called a small forward.
“In essence you would like for him to get some offensive rebounds, too. But offensively, he is away from the basket … so it’s going to be a little tougher for him to get in there and get those kinds of rebounds. But you can’t really judge him on what Charles Barkley is saying because they played the same position but that position has evolved. Most of the guys in the game, there’s not a lot of big power centers like Shaq, (Patrick) Ewing like that anymore. So the game has evolved, it’s a little bit different so you can’t judge him on the same criteria that you judge (the past).”