San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge not burdened by leadership role

By Rob Wolkenbrod
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 15: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends against LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs during the game on November 15, 2017 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 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. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 15: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends against LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs during the game on November 15, 2017 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 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. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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In a newfound role on the San Antonio Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge has stepped up, to become a leader by example.

When Kawhi Leonard, who suffered a quad injury, was announced to miss an indefinite period, it placed the San Antonio Spurs’ offense in the hands of LaMarcus Aldridge. He didn’t have the smoothest first two seasons in the Alamo City, so it was unknown how this would play out.

However, through the first 19 games, Aldridge has delivered, with 21.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. This production carried the Spurs to a 12-7 record, as the quarter mark of the 2017-18 season hits.

Amidst this, the five-time All-Star has taken a leadership role for the Silver and Black. He spoke to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (h/t NBA.com) about this, and doesn’t seem bothered by holding a larger title:

“It’s not a burden,” Aldridge said. “I just go play. That’s what I do. I try to be a leader and try to (generate) offense and make guys better.”

19 games, 19 double-digit scoring nights for LA. pic.twitter.com/Bj6dqqIRTQ

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) November 26, 2017

Head coach Gregg Popovich provided his two cents, too. He called Aldridge “our most consistent player” and a “leader” of the team:

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“His effort level every night has been off the charts. He’s producing on both ends of the court. He’s been a leader for us, helping out all the new guys and the young guys with the system. He’s been spectacular.”

After the tumultuous events of the offseason, which nearly saw Aldridge traded and a heart-to-heart conversation with Popovich, this marks a full turnaround of everything that happened. Both sides seem to be on good terms, which only helps as the team continues to be without Leonard (but will get back someone else on Monday night). The three-year extension may not have hurt, either.

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Given Leonard’s undisclosed timetable for return, Aldridge will remain the focal point and leader of this offense. His production has reached All-Star levels, similar to what he did for the Portland Trail Blazers. If this continues, when the 2014 NBA Finals MVP returns, it will make for an intriguing Spurs team in the final three quadrants of the season.

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