The San Antonio Spurs list 18 players on the roster heading into training camp, and Air Alamo will break down each of the current players, their strengths, weaknesses, chances to make the roster and expectations for the 2015-16 NBA season.
LaMarcus Aldridge brings his left-wing shooting prowess to San Antonio, where he’ll soon become the preeminent offensive force.
Who Is He?
Back in 2006, the Toronto Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani with the No. 1 overall pick. The Chicago Bulls took Aldridge, but they traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Tyrus Thomas.
That didn’t work out so well.
Aldridge spent nine seasons in Portland, tallying 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds over 648 appearances. He earned four All-Star bids, a first-team All-Rookie nod and a trio of All-NBA team awards.
He was the highest-profile available free agent, and thanks to a few franchise-friendly contracts signed by Danny Green, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs successfully cleared enough space for Aldridge’s max deal.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Aldridge is a volume shooter. During each of the last three seasons, he hoisted more than 1,300 shots—posting averages between 17.6 and 20.4. But the power forward still connected on 46.9 percent of his attempts.
LaMarcus Aldridge 2014-15 heat map, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
Just like Duncan, Aldridge is particularly comfortable on the left side of the floor. Courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, Aldridge’s heat map shows where he most often scored during the 2014-15 season.
Because of that overlap with Duncan, Aldridge’s ultimate fit on the Spurs has been discussed on numerous occasions, but Grantland’s Zach Lowe offered a simple outlook for the 30-year-old in San Antonio.
"“It will take some sacrifice, but everyone involved is smart enough and flexible enough to make this work.”"
While Aldridge is nowhere close to an elite defender, he can jump out to the perimeter to impact pick-and-roll sets, disrupt post players and alter shots. Considering the defense Kawhi Leonard, Green and Duncan provide, Aldridge will fit in perfectly well.
What to Expect in 2015-16
Aldridge will step into San Antonio’s starting lineup and should lead the team in scoring. He won’t launch 20 shots per game, but the 14-16 range is a realistic, conservative projection.
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Now, the Spurs won’t immediately become the NBA’s dominant team. Both times LeBron James signed with a different franchise, the first half of the season proved adapting to a superstar isn’t quickly accomplished.
But once San Antonio has adjusted to Aldridge, the reigning-champion Golden State Warriors, upgraded Los Angeles Clippers and bolstered Houston Rockets are the biggest obstacles to the Spurs’ 2015-16 title hopes.
Aldridge isn’t a seamless fit, but coach Gregg Popovich will certainly find a way to make it work. While Aldridge’s biggest contributions will arrive when the veterans retire, his first year with the Spurs could still be a special one.