Joe Freeman sort of beat me to the punch on this with his article in today’s OregonLive article: “Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge is "taken for granted," but emerging as best power forward in NBA.” So I’ve been motivated to write this sooner than expected, but it bears repeating, and Freeman didn’t have a cool superhero picture. So let’s do this!
LaMarcus has always been the quiet, lead-by-example type of player. Steady, consistant, he does his thing night in and night out. It’s as if it is so routine, that when other Blazers have great nights (which happens every night) the cameras and recording devices seem to be, “You know” (as LA always says about 100 times in an interview) stuck in someone else’s grill. LaMarcus doesn’t have the flair of say, the Human torch, and perhaps not the sex appeal of say, the Invisible Woman, and certainly not the brute strength of say, the Thing, but he is Mr. Fantastic: lanky, all over the court, leading his team, and content simply to come away with the victory.
I don’t have the access to players that beat writers do, but I can certainly take a moment to sit back and marvel (no pun intended) at what Aldridge has accomplished for this Blazer team, which was written off to play lotto ball long ago.
The other night during the Orlando game, I couldn’t believe my ears. As Lillard stepped to the foul line to shoot free throws, many Blazer fans were chanting, “MVP! MVP!” I get it. I love me some Lillard. But the L-Train is LaMarcus, and I think it’s time we fans took a step back and absorbed what Aldridge has quietly done this season.
Ranked 1st in Points Per Game for Power Forward, and 9th in the NBA (20.6 PPG)
One of 3 players in the NBA with at least 20 Points & 8 Rebounds Per Game
(Kevin Durant and LeBron James are the other two)
One of 2 players who have recorded at least 25 Pts, 10 Reb, and 5 Ast in 3 separate games
(James is the other)
Ranked 9th among PFs and Centers in Assists Per Game (2.5)
Ranked 24th in Blocks Per Game (1.25)
Ranked 23rd in Rebounds Per Game (8.4)
Ranked 13th in Minutes Per Game (37.7)
But his greatest asset is that LaMarcus can get his shot from anywhere inside the 3pt line, at any time, against any player in the NBA. When the Blazers need points, he gets it for them. When the Blazers need a block or rebound in crunch time, he gets it for them. When the Blazers have nothing going, he creates opportunities for them. And his production goes largely unnoticed because its sprinkled throughout the entire game and between fantastic plays that he creates for his teammates by dishing dimes or drawing double-teams. How does JJ Hickson get so many ridiculously wide-open dunks? See: LaMarcus Aldridge.
Why doesn't Aldridge get more credit, and how are some fans only able to see his value in terms of trade bait? I’ll never understand it. And, I have a challenge for Blazer fans lucky enough to score tickets to the game versus the Miami Heat, or any remaining home game for that matter. The next time LA steps to the free throw line, how about an MVP chant for Mr. Fantastic. It’s been long overdue.