Famously moody, it appears rumors of last season’s potential unhappiness on the part of LaMarcus Aldridge have been confirmed.
Aldridge recently had a talk with San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich in which the former All-Star big man confirmed that he was struggling with some of the aspects of his fit on the team.
In an article posted to ESPN, Aldridge aired some of the complaints he lodged with Popovich during their talk, including how he was being involved on offense.
Portland Trail Blazers fans, stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
One of the complaints was that teammates weren’t getting Aldridge the ball on quick looks, which then pushed the power forward to quit running the floor.
“One of our things this year is if myself, Pau [Gasol] or if any big is running the floor and we duck in, it’s just more emphasis on, ‘OK, let’s look at the post,’ ” Aldridge told ESPN. “I think last year, looking at the post wasn’t really what we did. It was more, let’s do something else. But this year, already, it’s about, ‘If he runs the floor and he’s ducking in, give him the ball.’ So it’s just more of an emphasis on those types of things.”
That, in turn, means Aldridge needs to do a better job of actually running the floor. He admits to not always doing that these past two seasons.
“It was an afterthought [to get me the ball early]. But it was both [probably my fault and the team’s] because I didn’t feel like I would get it,” Aldridge said. “So I probably didn’t run the floor as hard, or I didn’t seal as good. Then, they didn’t look for me. Then, when we both thought about it, it was too late.
“But this year, knowing that it’s going to be a point of emphasis, I’m going to run harder. I’m going to duck in harder, and they’re going to look for me faster. So it’s going to be better.”
This does have the potential to feel a bit like Dwight Howard‘s complaints about his post touches. If you remember from years past, Howard has taken to complaining about that sort of thing despite remaining Top 3 in low post looks per-game for the entire league. It’s been hard to take him seriously.
Indeed, according to Basketball Reference Aldridge has shot the same percentage of his field goal attempts where you’d expect after jumping from Oregon to Texas. However, there has been roughly a 30% decline in amount of field goal attempts by Aldridge after he moved to San Antonio.
So he has gotten the ball less, but it’s unclear what Aldridge thought was going to happen when he went to the Spurs. He was never going to be the top dog, which many thought was his main issue with the Trail Blazers. He moved to a better team, with a better system, a better coach, and better players. It was always likely Aldridge was going to be less of the focus he was in Portland.
Still, Popovich did say that he felt that all of Aldridge’s complaints were legitimate. Aldridge said that he had poured his heart out, and it appears he’s felt listened to.
Now we just have to see if that translates into more quick touches for Aldridge, and if he runs the floor more often.