Wednesday, March 14, 2007

There's Another Rookie in Portland

It's well chronicled that the Portland Trailblazers are a promising young team. And barring the unexpected, Brandon Roy will win this season's NBA Rookie of the Year award, and deservedly so. But it's time to take notice of LaMarcus Aldridge, the Portland Trailblazers' other rookie, who has really stepped up his game since the All-Star break. Since the break, Aldridge has averaged more than 3 offensive rebounds per game and has protected the ball extremely well, averaging less than 1 turnover per game. Simply put, he's been instrumental in helping the Blazers maximize their possessions.

Since mid-February, Aldridge is shooting 55% from the field, averaging 13.7 points, 7.3 rebounds (3+ offensive) and 1.6 blocked shots per game. He's been even better in the month of March, averaging 15.6 points, 9.2 rebounds (including a staggering 4.8 offensive rebounds) and 1.6 blocks per game. And he's getting better- he played his best game as a professional in Denver on March 13, when he scored 24 points (on 11-of-17 shooting), grabbed 17 rebounds (including an absurd 10 offensive boards!), blocked a career-high 4 shots and committed just 1 turnover!

More encouraging than the numbers are the areas in which he is excelling: offensive rebounds, turnovers (the lack thereof) and blocked shots. Players that excel in these areas tend to have long, productive careers with winning teams- and few of them have LaMarcus Aldridge's physical ability. Additionally, Aldridge seems to have found a comfort zone on the floor. Despite having spent less than one season together, Aldridge and Brandon Roy execute the pick-and-roll almost telepathically- Aldridge knows where the open jumper will be, and that he can knock it down, and Roy knows how to get him the ball.

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