At long last, power forward LaMarcus Aldridge appeared in his first game as a member of the San Antonio Spurs roster. Though the Spurs came up three points short Thursday night against the Sacramento Kings, Aldridge showed encouraging signs on the offensive end.
Most importantly, he did so without the familiarity of Tony Parker running the point. Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding said Aldridge admitted it was “different” not having Parker leading the pick-and-roll offense.
Aldridge spent most of his time on the left side, which was to be expected—especially since Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw also didn’t make the trip to Sacramento.
Nevertheless, Aldridge scored twice from the block, popped out to a vacant left corner after setting a screen and even contributed from the right side on occasion. He finished 3-of-10 from the floor overall, but Thursday was still a respectable start for the marquee free-agent signing.
After all, it’s not like a 10-of-10 night was the expectation. Four key players weren’t on the court, and Aldridge is still learning a new system. No matter the amount of practice time, a game situation is an entirely different story.
Per Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, Aldridge admitted he opened the night playing a more passive brand of basketball, because it’s easier to become more aggressive than tone it down later on.
"“I think it’s better to be passive (at the beginning), and then kind of get into it more, so they’ve got me back to (thinking), ‘You’ve got to still be yourself, but take the good pass and make the great pass,’ and that’s what I’ve been doing.”"
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The Spurs don’t want to eliminate Aldridge’s aggressive offensive nature. Rather, the team needs the power forward to shoot when it’s open and pass when he’s not. It sounds relatively easy, but that’s a big change for Aldridge after leading the Portland Trail Blazers for nine seasons.
Aldridge’s number of touches will almost certainly drop when Parker, Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Diaw return, so it’d be foolish to say the four-time All-Star has completely bought in before he’s even on the court with other key San Antonio contributors for a single minute.
But the simple fact that Aldridge was willing to defer despite the absence of the four players is encouraging. The Spurs need Aldridge to adapt, and while that’s not a one-game process, he put together an encouraging debut in the silver and black.