Pelton: 'No Power Forward In The NBA Is Better At Both Ends Than (LaMarcus) Aldridge'
The Basketball Prospectus
, the yearly almanac that profiled every NBA player participating in the upcoming season, quietly died when Kevin Pelton
and Bradford Doolittle
, authors of the Prospectus, joined ESPN.com full-time covering the NBA.
But while the paper edition of The Basketball Prospectus is gone, the content has undergone a digital metamorphosis and now lives on ESPN Insider (a yearly subscription to Insider is less than the cost of The Basketball Prospectus, so thank Kevin for saving you a bit of money). Pelton's player profiles for the Trail Blazers came out on Tuesday
. Here's a little taste.
On Damian Lillard ...
He set a rookie record for 3-pointers and ranked third in the league behind Stephen Curry and James Harden with 86 unassisted 3-pointers, per Basketball-Reference.com. That ability to pull up off the dribble kept opponents from going under screens and gave Lillard a head-start to the basket. Because of his small stature, Lillard shot just 53.1 percent at the rim, and developing an in-between game or kicking out more than shooting will be key to his future development. Though right-handed, Lillard did prove especially adept at finishing going to his left.
As advanced as Lillard was offensively, his defensive effort was more typical for a rookie. He plays smaller than his size and tends to get hung up on screens, which was the start of Portland's difficulty defending the pick-and-roll. Teams also had success simply isolating Lillard and beating him off the dribble, illustrating the need for him to improve his footwork in addition to adding strength.
On Wesley Matthews ...
A physical defender, Matthews relishes the challenge of matching up with the league's best players. He's not quite quick enough to be a lockdown one-on-one defender, but the Blazers can generally feel comfortable with him against almost any opposing shooting guard. Matthews' rebound rate declined last season at both ends of the floor.
On LaMarcus Aldridge ...
Per Basketball-Reference.com, Aldridge took more long 2-pointers (from 16 feet or farther) than any other NBA player. While he hit them at a solid 41.8 percent clip, Aldridge is more effective when he's in the post and can use his long arms to shoot over smaller defenders. Post-ups also tend to translate into more free-throw attempts, which Aldridge cashes in at better than 80 percent accuracy.
That quibble aside, it's easy to see why contenders will be lining up for Aldridge if the Blazers decide to trade him before he reaches unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2015. No power forward in the NBA is better at both ends than Aldridge, who is a fine defender. He battles well in the post and can block shots from the weak side, but Aldridge's defensive strength is matching up with guards after switching the pick-and-roll. He moves well laterally and forces them to try to shoot over his long arms.
And on Dorell Wright ...
Wright is a good fit for the Blazers because his game is similar
stylistically to starting small forward Nicolas Batum. Like Batum,
Wright has some ability to make plays -- he averaged a respectable 3.0
assists per 36 minutes last season -- but spends most of his time
spotting up. Slightly more than 60 percent of Wright's shot attempts
last season came beyond the arc, and he made them at a solid 37.4
percent clip, in line with his career average. Wright is also good at
running the floor for transition finishes.
Pelton goes through the entire roster, so if you're interested in reading the entire post, head over to ESPN.com and consider purchasing Insider.