LaMarcus Aldridge has lived up to the expectations set for him after he signed with the San Antonio Spurs leading up to the 2015-16 season. Looking forward, how will the game of the Texas native change as Father Time takes his toll?
LaMarcus Aldridge faced the immense pressure the moment he announced that he was signing with the San Antonio Spurs in the summer of 2015. The Dallas area native had made his name at the University of Texas and with the Portland Trailblazers but was now coming home. He was instantly the Spurs most high-profile free-agent acquisition in a decade and was looked to as the next great San Antonio big man.
Living up to those expectations and filling the shoes of greats like Tim Duncan and David Robinson is no small task. But it’s one that Aldridge has been up to. You can nit-pick his game as you can with any NBA player but Aldridge has been consistently great since he arrived in San Antonio.
The most remarkable thing about Aldridge’s game is his consistency. He’s a shoo-in for 20 points and close to 10 rebounds a night. It’s that level of consistency that has enabled San Antonio to build out a solid roster of players around him. Knowing what they’re going to get from LaMarcus on a night to night basis gives them a stable foundation to build around.
The important question is whether or not Aldridge can sustain this level of production through the end of his contract and into the future. I believe he absolutely can.
The importance of the three-pointer has been emphasized more and more in recent years but that hasn’t impacted Aldridge. Like a classic rock band that keeps playing their hits, Aldridge knows his vein and sticks to it. You can watch his 56-point domination of the Oklahoma City Thunder from last season and it looks much like one of his dominating performance from earlier in his career.
He may be a step slower but the way that Aldridge gets his points is largely the same. He’s got great hands and will almost always finish in pick and roll. Or you can drop it into the post and let him go to work. Two dribbles to back down his man, turn and fade over the right shoulder, bucket. It’s like clockwork and it’s not going to go away anytime soon.
His ability to score the ball from down low and the mid-range without putting too much wear and tear on his body has been remarkable. It’s the main reason that his game should age so well. His ability to score the ball, much like Duncan’s, is based on fundamentals and angles, not on pure athleticism. Not to say he’s not still athletic, he’s still capable of hammering home thunderous dunks on occasion.
Aldridge is under contract for this season and has a team option awaiting him in 2020. If that gets picked up he will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2021. That summer’s class of free agents is astoundingly loaded. Players like Giannis Anteotounkmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and LeBron James will all be on the market.
If he can still be as productive as he has been over the past few years, and I fully believe he will be, there is no reason why the Spurs shouldn’t bring him back. Aldridge has entertained the idea of returning to Portland at some point but nothing is for certain.
Aldridge has been the fulcrum of the San Antonio Spurs offense for the past two years. As he goes, the team goes. Fortunately, he’s been as good as he’s ever been and doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.
The Spurs should count themselves lucky to have such a consistent player as the star of their team and should certainly consider keeping him around through the end of his career.