San Antonio Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge working on 3-point shooting

By Rob Wolkenbrod
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 14: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs warms up before the game against the Golden State Warriors in Game One of the Western Conference Finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 14, 2017 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 14: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs warms up before the game against the Golden State Warriors in Game One of the Western Conference Finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 14, 2017 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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For the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge has never been a 3-point shooter. Could that change?

Through LaMarcus Aldridge’s 11 years in the NBA, “3-point shooter” hasn’t been something to describe him. Not for the Portland Trail Blazers or San Antonio Spurs. He shoots mid-range jumpers and works around the basket, but rarely steps behind the arc.

Aldridge has 293 career 3-point attempts, with 84 makes. To put it in perspective, Kawhi Leonard shot 387 3-pointers in 2016-17, making 147. However, the 32-year-old’s 56 tries mark the second-highest total of his career.

Could that number spike for the 2017-18 season? According to Aldridge on Spurs.com, he’s working on his game from long distance, a desire of Gregg Popovich’s from the offseason:

“That was one thing that [head coach Gregg Popovich] told me, to go home this summer and make sure you shoot [3-pointers] and get comfortable doing that because our system fits it. He’s going to be spreading it out more this year. I’ve definitely tried to focus on that.”

As for Aldridge’s 3-point percentage, he’s going to wait and see how it goes:

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“Let me wait to see how I feel. I feel great with it right now, but we’ll see.”

This tease of an extended shooting range will be something to watch for from the Texas product. He would join almost the entire team, who have the ability to stretch the floor and make outside shots.

If Aldridge’s words stay true, how will this impact his numbers? A potential increase in 3’s might decrease his shooting percentage, given it’s a lower percentage shot than the usual mid-range or paint attempts. There’s already evidence of this from his past three seasons:

LaMarcus Aldridge's stats from the past three seasons (via Basketball-Reference) pic.twitter.com/nlGj5NcLjB

— Rob Wolkenbrod (@RealRobWolkey) September 29, 2017

Aldridge was grounded in 2015-16, as he barely shot 3-pointers. It brought his field goal percentage to a career-high 51.3. With the increased game in less comfortable territory, his field goal percentage fell, similar to his final season in Portland.

While the 2006 draft pick had more outside attempts, it didn’t improve his points average, either. He shot more but scored less. Will that mean a sharper decrease, with more low percentage shots?

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Let’s see what Aldridge does, when the Spurs hit the floor for their first preseason game on Monday, Oct. 2 against the Sacramento Kings.

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