Focus on Lillard vs Focus on LaMarcus... which is better for Blazers' offense?
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  1. Blazer247
    Posts: 591

    Posted 11/21/2012 12:09 PM

    This topic has come up several times recently between me and other fans, and I think it's time we finally bring it to the forums instead of just on live-chats or twitter feeds...

    The point I want to focus on is Aldridge's change of shot selection, and how that is affecting the Blazers. A few things to get out of the way first, so people aren't trying to fire off these points as contradictions to my argument:

    -The Blazers currently have top-10 offensive production (that's great but it won't carry us a full season with poor defense and a lack of bench; my argument is that it could be even HIGHER if Aldridge worked more efficiently).

    -Aldridge currently has the 9th highest scoring avg per game in the NBA this season (also a great stat to have, but may not be sustainable with his current selection, which we're here to discuss. Please don't point to this stat to say that my argument is less valid, because it's a small sample size and I'm talking about how to increase the efficency so that this rank can be sustained and even get higher).

     -Please read this article I found on Around the World today, it summarizes most of my concerns and explains the issue very well, and will help to keep responses focused!  LaMarcus MUST re-emphasize his post game


    OK, SO. As we can see from Watanabe's article, Aldride's shot selection when at his best (both in the years he became a truly dominant player, as well as in the year he finally became an All-Star) consisted of nearly TWICE as many inside shot attempts as his habits so far this year, where he has shot more long J's than any season outside his rookie year (AND he's shooting more long J's, and longer ones, than literally any other player in the NBA known for their long J's... not making them more, just shooting them more). Don't get me wrong, it's AWESOME that he's making so many of them (for now), but like I've said in previous posts, if you study the math, there is far, far less advantage to making outside 2's (or even 3's) than there is to taking those same attempts closer to the hoop... closer shots are more likely to score (critical to win) no matter who you are or how well you shoot, plus an opportunity for free throws (which would be huge for Aldridge), plus an opportunity for a breather when trying to close out games. We recently all saw a great example of the difference this can make... Batum's recent missed attempt at the buzzer-beating 3; he immediately reviewed tape and stated in post-game interviews that with how much time was left on the clock, he knows it would've been better to take it to the hoop instead of shoot from outside (if he had, then he either makes 2 and we go to OT, or he gets fouled and we win, but he'd be less likely to miss and cost us the game).

    Jason Quick has also noted recently that by having LaMarcus taking his game farther from the hoop, we are failing to utilize the skills of Damian Lillard (and all of our outside shooting specialists, to a degree), because spreading the offensive spacing around the exterior limits his ability to use pass-to-post as a threat. Defenses can not only cover him differently without that as an intimidator, but if he instead chooses to drive inside, he is left wiiiiide open with less teammates available to assist; normally, defenses wouldn't be able to collapse solely on his drive, because they have to be wary of easy hand offs to other players near the bucket, namely LaMarcus and JJ and maybe Nic... of those 3, only JJ is currently positioning himself down low, and Nic is in 2nd, with his growing tendency to cut inside. If those 3 players aren't ready for a handoff, that means that when Dame takes the ball inside and defenses collapse to him, his only option is to kick it out to a long shooter and flip a coin for a bucket, instead of the much-higher-% assist to a post player for a layup or other easy bucket, and avoid wasting Dame's effort to get inside on the drive.

    With a PG like Lillard and the ball movement this team has from most of its players, plus an all-star post-player and a physical-playing center, we have all the weapons we need to penetrate defenses and just DESTROY FG%'s, and we'd still have multiple, fully capable, long-distance shooters to kick out to, without LaMarcus being one of them. As good as his numbers are to start this season (where have we seen that before? Last year's start, maybe?), it would be difficult for him to sustain. Therefore, he's going to end up hurting the Blazers, if he doesn't stop playing like a stretch 4 and go back to playing like a power forward; mostly inside, down low.

    To reference Watanabe's article one last time... "

    Aldridge’s shots at the rim have plummeted to 3.3 per game, his lowest since his rookie year, while his number of shots from 16 to 23 feet has ballooned to 10.2 per game. Nobody in the league takes more long twos — not noted midrange gunners like Josh Smith or Michael Beasley, and not even guys like Richard Hamilton and Luol Deng, who actually have a reputation for making such shots. To put it another way: More than half of the shot attempts taken per game by a near-7-footer come from beyond the free throw line. Aldridge’s shooting percentage therefore is irrelevant, because no matter how efficient he may be on such shots, he is inevitably less efficient than he would be taking the same number of shots near the hoop. Not surprisingly, the Blazers are less efficient as a result. Scoring 100.4 points per game seems impressive, but relative to their pace (the amount of possessions they get per game) the Blazers’ scoring average is just about where it should be. They are scoring fewer points per 100 possessions than slowdown teams like the Celtics and Nets — in other words, those teams get more out of fewer possessions than the Blazers do.

    Read more at:
    Aldridge's shots from 16-23ft has ballooned to 10.2 per game. NOBODY in the league takes more long twos -- not noted midrange gunners like Josh Smith or Michael Beasley, and not even guys like Richard Hamilton or Luol Deng, who actually have a reputation for making such shots. To put it another way: More than half the shot attempts taken by a near-7-footer (and allstar power FORWARD, not an sf or a guard) come from beyond the free-throw line... Aldridge's shooting percentage therefore is IRRELEVANT, because no matter how efficient he may be on such shots, he is inevitably less efficient than he would be taking the same number of shots near the hoop (I'm not saying he's bad, I'm saying he can be even BETTER!)... the Blazers are less efficient as a result... they are scoring fewer points per 100 possessions than slow-down teams like the Celtics and the Nets -- in other words, those teams get more points than the Blazers out of fewer possessions (in most cases, that means WE LOSE).

     I'm stoked on what this team is doing so far this season, there's no arguing that it's well beyond expectation. I'm stoked to see Nic coming into his own, I'm stoked that JJ is playing as big as we hoped, I'm stoked for our rooks and The Amazing Dame, and I'm stoked for LaMarcus to be welcoming the leadership role that we've needed him to grow into... BUT, he can't just become a verbal leader, he needs to continue to be the physical leader with his game on the floor. That means getting back inside and taking the physically-tougher-but-mathematically-easier shots, at least as often as he's taking his safety-first outside jumpshot. Sorry, LaMarcus, I don't want to see you hurt, but you can't argue with the math! Numbers don't lie, even less than the Ball. Do it for the Blazers.



    I am a fan of BLAZER BASKETBALL. Not drafts, not business, not trades, not David Stern. Just BLAZER BASKETBALL.
    Posts: 757

    Posted 11/21/2012 1:28 PM

    idk I think this might be stotts trying to use alderidge much like dirk was used 

    I am a fan of defensive man beasts
  1. Blazer247
    Posts: 591

    Posted 11/21/2012 1:40 PM

    Agreed Blaser, but Dirk was the exception, not the rule, for a PF, and Aldridge's style is as much like Duncan's (great post player) as it is like Dirk's... plus, if you look at Dirk's prime, yes he took outside shots, but the math is the same; approximately a little more than half of his shots in a season were under 15ft, and a fair portion of those under 10.


    I'm not arguing that Aldridge shouldn't be using his feather-touch outside jumper; he's great at it and it's a good weapon to draw defenders out... but it's the icing on his offensive cake, not the meat of it (or, the cake of it, I guess).


    Like Watanabe said in his article, the shooting percentage on his jumper doesn't matter at all when you're near 7 foot and have as good a post-up game as Aldridge does, because if you took those jumpshots inside, your percentage would be inevitably better.


    Then there's also the argument about playing alongside Damian and Nic; both of their games use the outside shot more than the inside game, plus Lillard needs an efficient big like LaMarcus inside to pass to. By taking a majority of his attempts outside, he's limiting Damian, and our other wing players like Nic.


    I'm just worried he's falling back into habits from when his role was to back up Brandon Roy, just because now there are other capable scorers on the team again and it's not solely relying on him. Thing is, he's our All-Star now, and it's not acceptable to go back to being that support player. He NEEDS to be Batman, not settle as Robin!

    I am a fan of BLAZER BASKETBALL. Not drafts, not business, not trades, not David Stern. Just BLAZER BASKETBALL.
  1. riverman
    Posts: 1431

    Posted 11/21/2012 4:01 PM

    Focus on the whole team is better for the Blazers offense. Any of our starters can be go to guys. I like it that way. LaMarcus skipped the Olympics to have early hip surgery and is still getting better. He hasn't been getting allstar calls when he posts up for some reason and collects charges more often than not in the paint. We're also seeing JJ, Nico and Wes post up more. 10 games in, new coach , new system. Nothing is 2nd nature with regards to the playbook yet. Give it some time. LaMarcus also just played 3 games with a sprained shooting wrist ...but he played and produced. Letting the offense come to you is what we're trying to establish and it's a work in progress. I like unselfish play.
    I am a fan of A team that plays like Tower of Power on a big stage on a good night
  1. Blazer247
    Posts: 591

    Posted 11/21/2012 5:44 PM

    I like what you're saying Riverman, you're right that it's a new system, new coach, and more players producing, etc... but the one thing I gotta say is what you mentioned about his allstar calls... contrary to your statement about not getting calls when he posts up, it's actually the exact opposite; the years that he got recognition to almost be an all-star were the years he posted up for the largest portion of his shots, and the year he finally got an all-star spot was his 2nd best year when it came to post-up numbers (the year before being the best, when he got snubbed), and he was shooting the smallest percentage of long jumpshots that year. Just sayin.
    I am a fan of BLAZER BASKETBALL. Not drafts, not business, not trades, not David Stern. Just BLAZER BASKETBALL.
  1. BDawg
    Posts: 1593

    Posted 11/21/2012 6:44 PM

    Spot on 247
    I am a fan of players that play with PASSION and PRIDE
  1. CarlJ1
    Posts: 399

    Posted 11/22/2012 1:04 AM

    247 I liked what you wrote we all know that LA is at his best when he attacks the basket and as much as I love how Batum is improving and Lillard is setting the world on fire and of course how rock steady JJ and Wes are you are going to go far as your best player takes you and with this version of LA we won't go as far as we should be going, I'm not saying we won't be good or we won't improve but, we would be a much better team in the long run if LA goes back to beast mode and with the last two years he had his jump shot should be a secondary weapon not his main one.


    At the end of the day we can talk about this all we want but, it's up to LA to be in that state of mind and also this has to fall on coach Stotts as well because I figure he saw how LA played and knows that LA is at his best when he attacks so all we can hope for is that LA and coach realize this before the jump shot first mindset becomes permanent.

    Thanks again 247 for the article and your writing.

    I am a fan of Respect, Loyalty, Honor & Pride the same thing the Blazer & their true fans are made of RIP CITY STAND UP!
  1. Blazer247
    Posts: 591

    Posted 11/23/2012 4:06 PM

    Thanks dudes, appreciated. 


    Think there's any hope that LaMarcus doesn't react as defensively about the issue, and begins to change his habits?

    Or do you think something has happened in his head, that now that we once again have other viable options, he doesn't need to keep up the same level of play?

    Again, please remember I'm not tryin to hate on Aldridge, he's one of my all-time favorite players and I think he has the best chance, numbers wise, of breaking a LOT of Blazer records, including some from The Glide... but some people, including athletes, will lean towards easing off when they have support, instead of leading the charge. If he falls in that category, for longer than short-term to catch his breath, someone needs to find a way to stir him up.


    Maybe tonight's battle against Kevin Love will stoke the flames?

    I am a fan of BLAZER BASKETBALL. Not drafts, not business, not trades, not David Stern. Just BLAZER BASKETBALL.
  1. malinore
    Posts: 8

    Posted 11/23/2012 10:09 PM

    Just ask how many times he gets to foul line. How effective can he be as offensive rebounder.  Who does it put into foul trouble covering his shot selection.  he needs to gove to the low block more.  Can still shout J's but most should be on blocks.  better for team.

  1. riverman
    Posts: 1431

    Posted 11/24/2012 10:11 AM

    LaMarcus looked really good against the Wolves..think his hand is better
    I am a fan of A team that plays like Tower of Power on a big stage on a good night
  1. Blazer247
    Posts: 591

    Posted 11/26/2012 1:21 PM

    Malinore, pretty sure we're sayin the same thing right? Aldridge will get to the foul line more, get more offensive rebounds, and hurt the other team with foul trouble more, all when he plays more in the low block than from the midrange and above the elbow. Most definitely, that's the better route for the team.


    And agreed Riverman, it was nice to see Aldridge play well against the wolves, but I really was hoping that the battle with KLove would get LTrain back into beast-mode, and it definitely didn't.


    As of today, 153 out of Aldridge's 221 total shot attempts this season have been from midrange -- that's a whopping 69 PERCENT -- where he's scoring just under 40%... but his inside shots are hitting at 63.9%... so he takes 70% of his shots where he hits them at less than a coinflip, yet if he played inside basketball a little more, he could make, literally, almost 50% more of his attempts than he does from long... even if all he did was balance it out to 50% from long and 50% from inside, instead of the current 69/31 split, he could increase his scoring averages by approximately 20%-30%... and that's without even considering free-throws.





    I am a fan of BLAZER BASKETBALL. Not drafts, not business, not trades, not David Stern. Just BLAZER BASKETBALL.
  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 11/26/2012 3:02 PM

    Lillard. Lillard. Lillard. Basketball is a guard's game and there aren't many better right now than Dame.Also, I just think he's got more of a No. 1 option mentality than Aldridge does.
    I am a fan of
  1. Blazer247
    Posts: 591

    Posted 11/26/2012 4:24 PM

    I'm not agains that, DHawes. Either Damian OR Batum, I think, have more of the natural personality to be that #1 option, at least as far as the offensive box score and the vocal leader (even Mathews is a more natural fit than Aldridge, when it comes to being a vocal leader), but right now, I think we can all agree, it's still LaMarcus' job... he has the offensive skills (vocal leader is another conversation), but my point with this thread is that he's not using them, and seemingly he's aware of that but choosing not to... that bothers me.


    If basketball is a guards game, that seems like all the more reason for an allstar PF like Aldridge to play like an allstar PF, not a guard, by avoiding the long shots and taking it inside like only he can (and lots of people are capable of shooting as well or better than he is, even on our roster, from distance).

    Let Lillard, Wesley, Nic, and the rest handle the majority of the jumpshots, and encourage LaMarcus to  do the job we need him to do. Whether he's our #1-offensive-option-team-leader or not has little to do with whether or not he's willing to take on the load of being an allstar PF, instead of trying to be a Dirk-lite PF (his jumpshot is nice, but it's not a Nowitzki jumpshot).

    I am a fan of BLAZER BASKETBALL. Not drafts, not business, not trades, not David Stern. Just BLAZER BASKETBALL.
  1. Blazer247
    Posts: 591

    Posted 11/27/2012 1:11 PM

    WOW, and right after I post that I turn on the game, and FINALLY we see LaMarcus taking it inside and playin like a LaMONSTER Allstar Aldridge again.


    Now if only we can get the rest of the team healthy and back in sync, we'll be goin somewhere!



    I am a fan of BLAZER BASKETBALL. Not drafts, not business, not trades, not David Stern. Just BLAZER BASKETBALL.
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