For the San Antonio Spurs, power forward LaMarcus Aldridge has officially become the heart and soul of the new-look team.
Over the course of the past year, the San Antonio Spurs have transformed their roster to adapt with the times. Small forward Kawhi Leonard missed all but nine games in the 2017-18 season, forcing All NBA power forward LaMarcus Aldridge into the featured role for the Spurs.
After committing to a long-term contract just over a year ago, Aldridge has solidified himself as the heart of the team. Leading them to the seventh seed despite a hobbled and injury-prone lineup, Aldridge made the mark on San Antonio that spectators had hoped for when he signed with the team in 2015.
Aldridge discussed his role as one of the longest tenured Spurs during Media Day on Monday.
“Even when I was in Portland, everyone has their own leading way, everyone leads in their own way. I’m never going to be that ‘ra-ra’ guy that’s just going to be always talking. I feel like those guys fall off of their fears. I’m definitely not that guy. I’m the guy that says something when it needs to be said. I’m more of a ‘lead by example’ type of guy so, of course with the young guys I have to be more vocal in practice, but for the most part I’m not going to change. “
No, LA isn’t going to wow you with his long-winded speeches or eccentric outbursts. It’ll be quite the opposite to be quite frank, as his low maintenance personality and calm demeanor make him a gentler leader. Even so, he knows what it takes to win in the NBA. His regular season success over the course of his career has been dictated by his own leadership.
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In spite of this, Aldridge is working to win his first championship. Since coming to San Antonio, Aldridge has reached the conference finals for the first time in his career and has experienced some of the most high-intensity playoff series of his career, including the Spurs 2016 second round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder and their first-round meeting with the Golden State Warriors this year.
Even when the Spurs were at their collective worst last season, Aldridge was at his best. He put up his best season since he was in Portland last year, putting up 23.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 33.5 minutes per game. With shooting guard DeMar DeRozan in the mix, the pressure is off for Aldridge, as he’s got another top-tier talent to share responsibility with.
Now, Aldridge has the added responsibility of being one of the longest tenured Spurs in the locker room. To truly excel as a team, Aldridge needs to step up as a leader and role model for his younger teammates.