Ever since he joined the San Antonio Spurs in the summer of 2015, LaMarcus Aldridge’s scoring production has dropped dramatically.
Aldridge, who had a career high average of 23.4 points per game in his last season playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, has averaged only 17.8 points per game in his two-year stint in San Antonio.
When asked about it, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich explained the situation using only two words, “Kawhi Leonard.”
Popovich’s answer said it all. Leonard is the face of the Spurs’ franchise, and on most nights, he’s going to be the man. This is an option Aldridge knowingly exchanged for winning when he decided to sign with the Spurs. “It’s about winning,” he said during his first season in San Antonio, “we’ve been winning and we’re putting ourselves in a position to be special. That’s what it’s about.”
The table below displays Aldridge’s stats per game when looking at his two seasons in San Antonio and his last in Portland.
However, following his return after a recent heart issue, Aldridge has played more freely and is finally looking like the player San Antonio signed for a max contract, as he’s been putting up similar numbers to the ones he did in his final year in Portland, even while attempting fewer shots and having a lower usage rate.
The next table below provides Aldridge’s Stats per 36 minutes in his last seven games and in his final season with Portland.
|Last 7 Games||21.7||9.3||18.4||50.4||26.6|
“I’m trying to make my shots and play in the flow,” said Aldridge. “I’m not being as passive as I was earlier in the year, and it’s working out for me.”
Coach Popovich agreed. “I think he looks pretty comfortable shooting the ball,” he said. “He’s not holding it. He’s shooting it when he’s open. I think he feels good.”
A change in mentality hasn’t been the only factor in Aldridge’s recent performances, as the Spurs have done a fabulous job finding him earlier in games lately. Something that helped him find his rhythm when he was a Trail Blazer.
This next chart shows Aldridge’ production in the first quarter of games recently compared to his season average and last season with Portland.
|Last 7 Games||7.3||3.4||6.4||53.3||32.6|
Leonard’s Spurs hold the second-best record in the NBA and remain on pace for another 60-win season. However, to have a real shot at winning a championship, San Antonio will need another star to help Kawhi carry the load offensively, and the former Trail Blazer understands exactly what he needs to do.
“I think the team needs me to be aggressive, making things happen,” Aldridge said. “It’s just going that way lately, and I’m going to embrace it and keep playing.”