November 2, 2009

Aldridge Got Paid, Went

Putting $65 million franchise type players on blast is not necessarily my favorite thing to do.  In fact, the last thing I want do is write something negative about one of the cornerstones of this franchise, but through 4 games of uninspired performances, I just can't help myself.  With the ink yet to dry on LaMarcus Aldridge's shiny new contract, and even though it seems a little premature, why not start questioning whether or not he's worth it?

For years, players have been known to get paid and then slide down into some lower level of performance.  I'd hate to assume that a guy who seems to genuinely love this game and play it with passion would travel down that road, but nothing should surprise any of us.  In fact, after last night's battle in Oklahoma City, I'd almost start to question it all.

It was late in the 1st quarter when a limping Aldridge came out of the game after banging knees with an OKC player.  His knee was wrapped, given the "OK" to test it, and we never saw him again.  Just 24 hours prior, we saw the exact same incident happen with Steve Blake.  The difference?  Blake returned in the 4th quarter to finish what he and his teammates started.

For a guy who seems to get visibly angry when the words "lack of toughness" are tossed into a sentence with his name, he continues to fail to prove anything different.  And to make it all worse, he plays alongside one of the toughest guys in the league in Brandon Roy.  Through 3 years now, we've seen Roy play through it all and never once has his lack of toughness been a talking point, yet with Aldridge, it seems to be a weekly occurrence.

Like I said previously, 4 games isn't much of a sample size, but the numbers surrounding LA aren't all that satisfying.  In fact, after just glancing at them, they are a little alarming.
  • He has 22 total rebounds which is 3 more than Roy and just 1 more than Travis Outlaw who as we all know has never been known as a rebounder.  
  • Joel Przybilla, with half the minutes played, has out rebounded him.
  • Last year, he actually had a decrease in production.  While playing a full 2 minutes more per game, his numbers either stayed exactly the same or dropped.
  • Andrea Bargnani, whose $50 million contract was the apparent starting point for Aldridge's looks like a potential All-Star in his 4th year.
  • I don't even want to start on the inconsistencies of his college years.
Do the experts that claim Aldridge will be better in the long run than Roy actually know what they are talking about?  I sure hope so for this team's sake.  When you look at his build, athleticism, and style of play, his ceiling would appear to be higher, I'm just not so sure he'll ever come close to it.

Is it too early to be concerned?  Probably.  Was a $65 million contract justified?  Only time will tell.

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Travis 11/2/09, 1:24 PM  

Aldridge has always been soft, as you've noted, and he has certainly had a bad start to the season.

On the other hand, let's wait a bit before putting him on blast. You seem to flip quick sometimes. But l appreciate your desire to keep an eye on LMA, because that's a damn big contract for a guy who plays too far away from the basket and doesn't seem to be improving his defensive rebounding.

On the other hand, go ahead and put him on blast. :)

kellex 11/2/09, 1:52 PM  

Hah cheers.

I really wanted him to come out this year looking like the All-Star we all think he'll be and so far hasn't.

He came into camp all pumped up, signed a deal right before game 1, and then fizzzzzzzzzzled.

It'll all be good I'm sure. Plus he's on my fantasy team and I need him back soon. :)

Travis 11/2/09, 2:51 PM  

Yeah, I don't want to bash LA. He's a good guy and obviously critical to the team's success. It's somewhat taboo in certain Blazers circles (ahem, Quick) to criticize LA, though, and I think we need to hold him to high standards. I'd love to see him average 9.something rebounds per game this year.

ucatchtrout 11/2/09, 5:26 PM  

"Just 24 hours prior, we saw the exact same incident happen with Steve Blake. The difference? Blake returned in the 4th quarter to finish what he and his teammates started"

I hate to say it, but the other difference between these two is that while LA just got an extension, Steve Blake is in the last year of his contract.

kellex 11/2/09, 8:11 PM  

Which furthers my point. Just because a guy gets a new contract, doesn't mean he has a pass to take the night off. He's more important now and this team needs him more than ever.

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This Portland Trail Blazers blog definitely isn't your basic "recap/report the news" kind of blog. We tend to lean a little to the sporadic and unsystematic side of this young and sexy basketball team. Oh, and you'll definitely see a lot of Blazer Dancer action around here, so bring your bucket of ice.

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