San Antonio Spurs: Finding help for LaMarcus Aldridge on offense
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The San Antonio Spurs faced trouble when LaMarcus Aldridge was limited late against the Los Angeles Lakers. Where can this team find more scoring help?
The San Antonio Spurs had a 1A and 1B on offense to enter the 2017-18 season: Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, respectively. Everyone else would fill in where needed and back up these multi-time All-Stars toward another 50-win season and a playoff berth. That’s the usual in the Alamo City, but not as of April 5.
Well, with Leonard unexpectedly missing all but nine games, it placed the offensive load on Aldridge’s shoulders. He continuously led the team in scoring and is the only Spur to cross 30 points this season. Players have stepped up to score 20 points, sure, but hardly on a nightly basis to aid the team’s star and dampen the pressure.
Rudy Gay is San Antonio’s next closest player to a breakout scorer. However, he only topped 20 points five times in 54 games. Patty Mills and Danny Green proved to be too streaky to fill this role, either, and play best as players that help not lead.
The offensive burden crashed and burned on Aldridge’s shoulders late in Wednesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Once the Purple and Gold double-teamed him at the end of the fourth quarter and in overtime, the offense seemed lost. Mills was forced to create shots (most of which were long two-point attempts) and Dejounte Murray did all he could to take multiple floaters near the basket. That was while Kyle Kuzma ran circles around an underperforming Spurs defense and played unconscious basketball.
Dejounte team-high 6️⃣ assistsLaMarcus team-high 2️⃣3️⃣ points#GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/NuErHSXaQZ
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) April 5, 2018
The Laker loss was hardly the first time this happened, either, when Aldridge got locked up by a defense or did not seem his best. Leonard’s return solves some of these scoring issues, but his absence also highlights the lack of depth behind the team’s top-two players.
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Do the Spurs need a “Big 3?” To compete with the Western Conference’s elite (Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets), maybe. A No. 3 guy to support another mysterious quad injury to Leonard or if Aldridge’s knee flares up. A No. 3 guy to combat players like Eric Gordon, Klay Thompson, CJ McCollum, Andrew Wiggins and other players that do not hold their respective team’s mantle. It’s hard to pinpoint who that player is, whether that’s through the draft, free agency or a trade, but it should be marked down on the team’s “to-do list.”