LaMarcus Aldridge will eventually replace Tim Duncan, but the newly signed power forward isn’t trying to replicate what the San Antonio Spurs legend brings to the court.
In an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today, Aldridge said he believes any pressure to take over Duncan came from external sources, not the Spurs organization.
"I never had any issues with it. I think the media blew it up more, like I’m trying to fill his spot and take his role. I was like, ‘No, I’m trying to be me.’ I feel like me being there with Pop in the system with the guys, I should be ok."
It appears Aldridge’s chief concern for his new basketball home was that he’d remain a go-to player in the offense. After all, the 6’11” power forward racked up a career-best 23.4 points per outing last season.
Per Amick, Aldridge revealed he had narrowed his free agency choices to San Antonio and the Phoenix Suns, but a reassurance from the Spurs that he’d still occupy a leading role sealed the deal.
"That was what I was weighing: Go to Phoenix, be the face and the guy, or go to San Antonio and probably win sooner and be more blended in. That was my issue. And I was like, ‘If y’all want me to come here and average 12 or 13 points, that’s not who I am. I like scoring.’ They were like, ‘No, we want you to play in the system, but you scoring is needed here.’ Once I heard that, I was fine."
Aldridge certainly won’t repeat the 30.2 percent usage rate he posted with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2015-16. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Tony Parker’s 24.5 usage ranked highest on San Antonio’s roster.
However, the 30-year-old Aldridge will command the double teams Duncan no longer demands, which will provide extra space for Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard to operate on the perimeter. If Aldridge recognizes the open spaces and executes a well-thrown pass, he can initiate the Spurs’ trademark rapid ball movement.
Opponents will likely then be tentative to continue doubling Aldridge, who would receive plenty of opportunities to win one-on-one battles in the post.
And even though he’s not trying to replicate Duncan, that would make Aldridge a little like the future Hall of Famer.