LaMarcus Aldridge’s MVP-level season looks a lot like last season

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How about these numbers: 21.1 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting (17.8 shots a game), 9.1 rebounds a night and with a PER of 20.4 as the undisputed leader of his team.

That’s your newly minted early MVP candidate LaMarcus’ Aldridge’s numbers… from last season.

This season he is scoring 23.6 points per game on 48.6 percent shooting (20 shots a game), 11 rebounds a night with a PER of 23.8. Those numbers are up slightly but not dramatically from last season, he’s taking a few more shots and a little stronger on the boards, but he’s basically the same player shooting the same percentage.

What changed is he is getting noticed because the Blazers are 22-4. The team around him improved — Damian Lillard matured, Nicolas Batum is blossoming, the team’s defense has improved (not enough, still bottom 10 in the league, but improved) and the offense has exploded.

This discussion was started by a note from the often wise Couper Moorhead on twitter.

Royce Young of CBSSports picked it up from there.

They are right. Aldridge has taken on a little more of the Blazers offense this season, but his numbers are not out of line with what he did in seasons past (and coaches voted him an All-Star the last couple seasons because they knew how hard he was to guard).

Not everything is identical. One of the differences for Aldridge this season is he’s getting more post touches — last season 33.7 percent of his shot attempts came in the post and he shot 47.6 percent on those. This season he gets 41.5 percent of his attempts on post ups, shooting a reduced 40.7 percent. That’s come at the expense fewer spot up opportunities. (Stats via Synergy Sports.)

He’s getting the same number of shots as a roll man (18.7 percent of his offense) but this season is shooting nine percentage points higher, 56 percent.

But really, the big difference is you’re noticing because the Blazers are good. Aldridge is pretty much the same top power forward he has been for years.

Lakers’ without Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for opener due to DUI suspension

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LOS ANGELES — This isn’t new news, but a lot of NBA fans forgot it.

Last June the NBA suspended then Pistons now Lakers guard two games for “pleading guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, in violation of the law of the State of Michigan.” Those were to be the first two games of next season — the Clippers game Thursday followed by the Suns Friday.

Lakers coach Luke Walton played it close to the vest, not revealing who would start at the two in KCP’s place. The most logical answer may be Jordan Clarkson, but Walton likes him creating shots with the second unit. Other options are limited, they could go small with backup point guard Tyler Ennis or big with Corey Brewer. (Josh Hart might have been the best call, but the rookie is out with a sore Achilles.

Whoever starts it will be a blow to the defense-starved Lakers to be without their best perimeter defender.

This summer, after landing Avery Bradley, the Pistons chose to renounce the rights to Caldwell-Pope, setting him free into what was a difficult market. Even for a good wing defender who hit 35 percent from three last season, when the market dried up so did the chance for a decent multi-year deal. The Lakers grabbed him for one-year at $18 million.

Caldwell-Pope’s agent is Rich Paul, who happens to be LeBron James‘ agent (and he’s a free agent next summer), but whatever the ulterior motives this was a good signing by the Lakers. If KCP works out this season for them they would be in the driver’s seat to re-sign him next summer (although the Lakers would not have his Bird rights).

Thunder reveal “Hoodie Melo” hoodies before Knicks game (PHOTO)

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Ah yes, Hoodie Melo. The new, improved version of Carmelo Anthony that is much better than the old one, mostly because he isn’t playing for the New York Knicks. Also, he is often seen wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

Of course, as is often the case in the NBA, when a cultural phenomenon comes along there’s often plan to make money off of it following close behind. That appears to be the case here, as the Thunder announced special Hoodie Melo sweatshirts that were selling before the game against the New York Knicks on Thursday.

The sweatshirts mimic the style of a popular Jordan brand logo, Carmelo’s shoe sponsor.

Via Twitter:

Carmelo stayed true to form throughout the warm-up session before the game, taking to the floor during lineups wearing — you guessed it — a hoodie.

Of course, there was lots of intrigue during the Thursday night game between Anthony and his former team, with the first points of his career coming in Oklahoma City looking like this:

Long live Hoodie Melo. May his brand forever beat forecasted sales numbers.

Warriors unveil sweet new uniforms (photo)

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The Warriors might not have Draymond Green against the Pelicans tomorrow, but Golden State will have these awesome jerseys:

Fresh. To. Death.

Devin Harris’ brother dies in car accident

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Just awful news for Devin Harris.

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News

The brother of Mavericks’ guard Devin Harris died Thursday afternoon after an early-morning crash on Central Expressway, officials said.

According to police, at about 1:40 a.m. Thursday morning Bruce Harris, 38, and a 36-year-old male passenger were in their disabled vehicle in the north bound lane of Central Expressway just south of Walnut Hill. A 23-year-old male driver of an Acura sedan and a 23-year-old male passenger were traveling north bound on Central Expressway and struck the back of the disabled vehicle. The impact caused the gas tank of the disabled vehicle to rupture and catch fire. All occupants were transported to Presbyterian Hospital.