If it were any other NBA season the 55-10 San Antonio Spurs would be the talk of the NBA, they are winning nearly 85% of their games, have the highest point differential, allow the fewest points by nearly five points better than any other team, and are also undefeated at home. Instead they are the second hottest team in the league, thanks to the amazing run the Warriors are on. Not a problem for them, flying under the radar is exactly how the Spurs prefer it.
What has gone completely unnoticed is how LaMarcus Aldridge is beginning to fit his smooth offensive game into the Spurs team oriented offense.
Going into the all-star break Aldridge was averaging 17 points per game but at times looked unsure where he fit in the Spurs move the ball offense. He would pass up open shots to keep the ball flying around. Early in the season coach Popovich said, “If anything, he’s deferred too much, he’s had open shots”. The Spurs offense takes time to adjust to, especially for a star player like Aldridge. It’s easy to forget he went from being the focal point of Portland’s offense to averaging 20 shots a game to his current average of 14 shots with the Spurs.
It looks as if he’s beginning to unlock the code and starting to pick his spots more in the offense. Since the all-star break, Aldridge upped his scoring average by three points a game to 20 points per game. In the last six games Aldridge is averaging 25.5 points. In the clip below he trails the fast break and steps right into a jumper at the top of the key.
Aldridge is known for his ability to hit that jumper, which is what makes him deadly in pick-and-pop scenarios. When a defender like in the example below closes out too hard on him after Kawhi Leonard comes off the pick-and-roll, he gives a strong pump fake to get the defender to bite. This allows Aldridge to glide down the newly created lane and dunk on Karl-Anthony Towns.
In the video below, Aldridge goes to his Nowitzki-like post up to a step back fade away that has kept defenders off balance for nine seasons.
Aldridge has always been a smooth operator and making the move to join the Spurs was a smart one. It showed he is willing to sacrifice his own offensive game for a chance at a championship. It appears that Aldridge is finding his niche in the offense and just at the right time as the Spurs next four games are against the Thunder, Clippers, Blazers, and Warriors.
- The Coach Popovich quote came from an article by Bram Kincheloe at SB Nation.
- Photo: Wilfredo Lee, STF/Associated Press