LaMarcus Aldridge, for all of his offensive gifts, isn’t considered a
dunker. In fact, most fans would probably complain Aldridge spends too
much time outside of the paint, preferring the 15-footer over the
two-handed jam. And there’s some merit to that. Aldridge undoubtedly
works the inside/out game, and often times, that ratio shades toward
But there’s a good chance Aldridge is spending more
time in the paint than you realize, which brings us back to those
dunks. For a player known more for his high release than his high
flying, Aldridge is right up there in the NBA in made dunks. Fifteenth in the league
to be exact, right behind Andrew Bynum and just in front of Rudy Gay.
He’s ahead of guys like Kevin Garnett, David Lee, Josh Smith and Chris
Bosh, players who are all considered more “post oriented,” lunch
bucket-type guys than Aldridge.
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t
expect Aldridge to be that high on the list. To be honest, he didn’t
either, which speaks to the prevalence of the perception that Aldridge
isn’t a legitimate threat in the low post when he’s not shooting
turnaround jumpers. Roughly 19 percent of Aldridge’s 475 made baskets
this season have come by way of dunks, which is a healthy percentage
for a player of Aldridge’s skill set.
Even aside from the throwdowns, Aldridge’s play as of late would seem to indicate an increased aggressiveness, an observation backed up by the numbers
So far in March, Aldridge is bettering his season averages in points
(20.0), rebounds (8.8), assists (2.4) and steals (1.3). And he’s
attempting 5.8 free-throw attempts per game in March, almost two
attempts per game better than his season average.
Aldridge, there are a few reasons for the increased productivity, with
the foremost factor being a concerted effort to be more active on the
“I think I’ve been more aggressive trying to get
rebounds,” said Aldridge. “I think that’s put me in a good rhythm with
everything else. I think this whole season, teams have keyed in on me,
but I think I’ve learned more. I’ve figured out ways to stay efficient
and affect the game other than scoring.”
And then there’s the
desire to make the playoffs. Aldridge is anxious to make the postseason
for the first time in his professional career, and he’s putting much of
that burden on his own shoulders.
“I think I’ve made a big step
this year as far as talking more, playing more like a leader this
season,” said Aldridge. “I’m trying to step up for the playoffs. Trying
to get better. I think as we go forward that we’re going to need
everybody to raise their level. I know I’m trying to raise mine.”
there’s something more visceral driving Aldridge’s improvement: his
almost maniacal quest to prove his doubters wrong. For a man who has
the words “Me Against The World” tattooed across his back, the desire
to silence all questions about his game runs deep.
“I feel like when
I was coming up, I had to prove to everybody that I should be here,”
said Aldridge. “I think I still have to prove that I’m a go-to player.
I don’t think some people really believe it yet, so I have to do it
every night. Go out and prove it every night.
“I’m in the paint more than they think I am. I’ve just got to keep proving them wrong.”
With every dunk, Aldridge gets a little step closer to achieving that goal.