In the summer of 2015, the San Antonio Spurs made their biggest free agent signing of all time, luring four-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge from the Portland Trail Blazers. It was a signing that ensured the team would extend their playoff streak another four years despite the gradual retirements of the Big Three.
The duo of Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard led San Antonio to back-to-back 60-plus win seasons while Aldridge made three more All-Star teams in four seasons with the Spurs. While they couldn’t quite seal the deal in the playoffs, it was their efforts that kept San Antonio from fading to irrelevancy as much of the world expected would happen after Tim Duncan’s departure.
Now in his sixth season with the Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge has taken a secondary role to DeMar DeRozan and other emerging young guys, pitching in vintage performances now and then. With Aldridge reaching age 35, the conversation has shifted from a LaMarcus and DeRozan system to questioning how much of a role LaMarcus should still have on the team.
The San Antonio Spurs are lucky to have signed LaMarcus Aldridge
We’ve had plenty to say about the issue of what to do with LaMarcus, including proposing possible trade destinations and other drastic options. Since I’ve been at the center of many of these conversations, I wanted to take some time to recognize how much LaMarcus has done for the franchise in his time in San Antonio.
It’s easy to forget the kind of numbers the University of Texas legend has put up in the Silver and Black, so without further adieu, let’s take a moment to appreciate LaMarcus Aldridge by looking at some places he holds in franchise history.
Next: No. 10 & 9
10. San Antonio Spurs History: 10th in Field Goals and 2-pt Field Goals
With his 2,886 made field goals, LaMarcus Aldridge is now 10th in franchise history, behind Larry Kenon. Of those, 137 of them have been 3-pointers, while the rest have been inside the arc. The resulting 2,749 made 2-pointers also have him at 10th all-time in that category, behind Manu Ginobili’s 3,089 and Sean Elliot’s 2,929.
Does LaMarcus have a legitimate shot at climbing up either of these rankings much further? The chances are he won’t this season. Averaging out his made field goals over games played, his career average with the Spurs is 7.9 made field goals per game. However, that also factors in his All-Star seasons, so I think it’s safe to knock a full made field goal off that average, given his reduced role.
To catch Kenon’s 3,446 made field goals, Aldridge needs to connect on another 560 shots. At a rate of 6.9 made field goals per game, he would need another 81 games to reach that mark. Elliott’s 2-point record is much more manageable, and, barring any injuries, LaMarcus should eclipse that record in about 30 games.
9. San Antonio Spurs History: 10th in Total Points
In just five seasons and change, LaMarcus Aldridge is already 10th in Spurs’ history in total points scored and looking to move up one spot. As of this article, he’s sitting at 7,240 total points, once again behind Larry Kenon.
Kenon’s 8,248 points have him 1,008 ahead of Aldridge, which means he has a slim chance of reaching that mark this season. LaMarcus would need to average 18.3 points per game over the final 55, meaning a climb to ninth will likely need to wait another season, if he remains with the team.
Next: No. 8 - 6
8. San Antonio Spurs History: 10th in Win Shares
Nothing means more to the Spurs than winning basketball games. Their playoff streak that recently ended is one of the most impressive feats in all sports. Aldridge has been a big part of the winning culture of the Spurs in recent years and currently sits at 10th on the team with 42.5 win shares.
Per Basketball-Reference, a win share is “a player statistic that attempts to divvy up credit for team success to the individuals on the team.” There’s much more to their definition that you can read about here. Just ahead of Aldridge in win shares are Kawhi Leonard (56.3), Sean Elliott (54.3), and Avery Johnson (47.3). By the way, Tim Duncan’s win shares? 206.4.
7. San Antonio Spurs History: 8th in Offensive Rebounds
Every possession is valuable in the NBA, and LaMarcus Aldridge is responsible for 960 extra Spurs possessions so far. Now sitting just nine offensive rebounds from Rich Jones, it’s only a matter of time before Aldridge will be chasing Artis Gilmore for sixth all-time.
If LaMarcus keeps averaging one offensive rebound per game for the next 55, he’ll be hovering around 1,015 at the end of the season, which is 79 away from Gilmore. In any event, look for him to become a member of the 1,000 offensive rebound club by this spring.
6. San Antonio Spurs History: 7th in Total Blocks
LaMarcus Aldridge takes a lot of flak for his lack of interior defense nowadays, but the numbers don’t lie: he’s one of the greatest shot-blocking bigs in Spurs history. At 465 career blocks, Aldridge is seventh all-time behind George Johnson, who has 512.
The most blocks LaMarcus has tallied in one game for San Antonio has been five, which he’s done seven separate times. If he keeps up his rate of nearly one block per game, he should surpass Johnson for sixth near the end of the 72-game season.
Next: No. 5 - 3
5. San Antonio Spurs History: 7th in Points Per Game
Nine guys have scored more points in a Spurs jersey than LaMarcus Aldridge, and seven of those have since had their numbers retired by the team. Whether that’ll be the case for Aldridge is a topic for another post, but his numbers certainly fit the bill.
When it comes to points per game, LaMarcus climbs up to seventh on the list. With his current average of 19.6 points per game, Aldridge is ahead of Tim Duncan’s 19.0 per game average, although that data is obviously skewed by Duncan’s final seasons approaching age 40.
This is one statistic LaMarcus is unlikely to keep in this position for very long, as he’s currently averaging a career-low 14.5 points per game (when you exclude his rookie season).
4. San Antonio Spurs History: 7th in Offensive Box Plus/Minus
Plus/minus numbers can be tricky, but Basketball-Reference has its own box plus/minus score that gets a bit more scientific and in-depth. The concept is still the same, though, in that it states how valuable a particular player is to a team’s offense when they’re on the court.
With his offensive box plus/minus of 2.2, Aldridge is just ahead of Pau Gasol’s 2.0 to nab spot seven in franchise history. Unfortunately, this season is the first time with the Spurs that he has negative box plus/minus numbers across the board. With -1.1 offensive and -1.2 defensive, Aldridge’s -2.4 box plus/minus might make his spot in Spurs history start to freefall.
3. San Antonio Spurs History: 6th in Usage Percentage
Usage percentage is an estimate of the amount of team plays used by one player while they’re on the floor. DeMar DeRozan might be the go-to guy in San Antonio now, but that title belonged to LaMarcus Aldridge for a long stretch.
In his prime seasons, such as 2016, Aldridge led the team with nearly 26 percent. So far this season, that number has been more evenly distributed throughout the team, with Aldridge still having a respectable 23.7 percent for second on the team among rotation players.
Other notable names near LaMarcus are DeMar DeRozan’s third-place spot at 26.9 and Tony Parker at eighth with 25.1.
Next: No. 1 & 2
2. San Antonio Spurs History: 5th in Player Efficiency Rating
Player Efficiency Rating was first developed by ESPN’s John Hollinger, which he defined as “summing up a player’s positive accomplishments, subtracting the negative accomplishments, and returns a per-minute rating of a player’s performance.”
Unsurprisingly, Hall of Famers (and one future Hall of Famer) currently hold the top four spots in this category for the Spurs:
1. David Robinson – 26.2 2. Tim Duncan – 24.2 3. Kawhi Leonard – 22.1 4. George Gervin – 21.8 5. LaMarcus Aldridge – 21.7
After peaking with an impressive 25.0 PER in 2018, Aldridge has been declining year-to-year to his current figure of 14.2. Don’t be surprised if DeMar (currently sixth at 20.6) passes him before too long. Still, Aldridge is in some distinguished company when it comes to his overall performance in San Antonio.
1. San Antonio Spurs History: 3rd in Turnover Percentage
The highest LaMarcus ranks in any of the Spurs’ leaderboards has to do with his ability to take care of the ball. Granted, he’s not exactly a dribbling guard, but considering his high usage over five-plus seasons, that’s a remarkable achievement.
The only Spurs with a better turnover percentage average are Matt Bonner and Michael Finley, who ended their careers with 7.1 and 7.2 turnovers per 100 possessions, respectively. San Antonio has been a relatively careful team with the ball in recent years, and a big reason for that is Aldridge averaging just 1.5 giveaways in the Alamo City.
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Wherever you sit on the dilemma of dealing with Aldridge’s decline, it’s important to remember just how much he’s done for the franchise so far in nearly 370 games played. After a handful of 20-plus point scoring nights recently, he’s not quite done just yet.