The San Antonio Spurs big man will behind the arc more than ever this year
Ask a few San Antonio Spurs fans what the most surprising part of last season was and you’ll likely hear a few references to LaMarcus Aldridge‘s outside shooting. After dominating the low post and mid-range for much of his career the big fella shot it from behind the arc more than ever last year.
Starting in late December, LaMarcus started lighting it up from three. He’d been shooting one or two a game up until that point but suddenly it wasn’t out of the norm to see him put up six or seven three-pointers in a game. And he was making them too.
When all was said and done he ended the season averaging 3 3-point attempts per game and was connecting on 38.9 percent of them. In just 53 games he attempted a total of 157 three-pointers, a mark that far exceeded his previous career-high of 105 attempts in a season where he played in 71 games.
The newfound spacing did wonders for the Spurs’ offense. Suddenly there was more room for guys like Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan to get to the rim and they were feasting on easy shots at the rim.
As we approach the NBA season one of the most pressing questions on the mind of Spurs fans has been what kind of Aldridge will we see this year? Is he going to continuing to put up three-point attempts or will he revert back to his old ways?
LaMarcus Aldridge spent the summer working on his long-range shooting
During a conversation with the media as the San Antonio Spurs opened training camp today, Gregg Popovich touched on what Aldridge’s role will be with the team this year.
1) Pop on LaMarcus Aldridge fitting in w/SAS new style of play: "We want to get back in the playoffs, and he is committed to taking another huge step as far as becoming more of a 3-point shooter, which is necessary in this league for success we all know."
— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) December 1, 2020
Two things stand about that quote. First, this is not a team that is going into the season resigned to another lottery appearance. They’re fighting to start another playoff streak. Whether that happens or not is up to them.
Secondly, and more importantly, is Aldridge’s commitment to becoming more of a 3-point shooter. That’s great news for this team and especially for slashers like Murray, Lonnie Walker, and DeRozan.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that LaMarcus’s increased 3-point shooting overlapped with a year where DeRozan had the highest field goal percentage of his career while getting shots near the rim than he had since his earliest days in the league. If the play that we saw from these two in January is what we can expect from them all year then the team should be in a great spot.
We will have to wait and see if these stylistic changes help get the San Antonio Spurs back to the playoffs. But, for now, it’s encouraging to hear that LaMarcus Aldridge has embraced his new role on the team.