If LaMarcus Aldridge's mid-range jumper were a living creature, I would court it, tell it funny stories, do new life activities with it, love it, ask its parents (presumably Dirk's mid-range jumper is the dad and Anna Kendrick the mother) for their blessing, move in together, marry it, love life together, grow a small but steady resentment toward each other and then die.
That's how much I love LaMarcus Aldridge's jumper. It is beautiful, exotic, sexy but approachable. It is, as netw3rk from Grantland would say, wet.
4/5ths of the earth is covered by LaMarcus Aldridge's jumpers.— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) November 9, 2013
Other than having the wettest jumper, Aldridge is pretty good at a lot of other things. He's a good back to the basket player, with an all around mid-range/post game almost as good as Dirk in his prime. Where Aldridge differs from Dirk is the dude knows how to power through guys and score near the rim. You know how when we see Dirk bust out a hook shot for one game and we all go goo-goo-ga-ga bananas over it? Yeah, Aldridge hits nasty mid-range fades AND hits some hook shots about every game. What he lacks in shooting range compared to Dirk, he makes up with a more well-rounded post game.
He has been the centerpiece in Portland for nine years. His career field goal percentage is 48.5 percent he's expanded parts of his game every year. Maybe not as much as Dirk did with his post game and passing, but Aldridge has made the progression from "nice young player" to "franchise cornerstone" at the age of 29.
Now there's rumblings that he might leave Portland. It makes sense: he was born and raised in Dallas, went to high school in DFW and college in Austin. I have no insider knowledge of this, but he seems like he would like to play in Texas and be closer to his hometown more than Deron Williams and Chris Bosh ever did -- those guys clearly wanted to shine on a big stage in a splashy market.
And for some reason, Portland has decided to basically give the team to Damian Lillard and shower him in the marketing scheme as Portland's guy. That can't feel too good for a guy that's been there longer and, quite frankly, been a much better player for the Trail Blazers. Lillard's clutch shots and playmaking have been awesome but Aldridge has been a two-way force. Throw in the injury to Wes Matthews and you can start to paint a picture on why Aldridge would maybe want to bolt back to his hometown.
Even then, it's really hard to totally buy in. When Portland was healthy, the Blazers starting lineup was definitely title-worthy -- their starting lineup of Lillard, Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Aldridge and Robin Lopez had a 10.7 net rating according to NBA.com, an insanely elite number. The emergence of C.J. McCollum in Matthews absence is a huge boost for next season as Portland desperately needed a scoring plug off the bench -- when Matthews is healthy, you can see the foundation of a potential conference finals roster.
If Aldridge does leave, the Mavs won't be the only ones to pursue -- there's the Lakers and Knicks of course, but also the Spurs. The Spurs have a better roster, better track record and are in Aldridge's home state. That'd be tough to pass up.
Fit with the Mavericks
This is a no-brainer -- Aldridge would slide right in to the Dirk replacement that we very suddenly realized we needed after watching Dirk get torched in the first-round series against the Rockets and saw his offensive numbers dip in strange ways.
Sliding Aldridge into Dirk's starting spot next to Tyson Chandler with Dirk a super-sixth man sounds like some deliriously erotic fan fiction. The Mavs would still have a foundation of efficient offense to flow through, with Aldridge picking, popping, rolling and posting like Dirk did in his heyday. Sure, the spacing Dirk provides doesn't compare to Aldridge, but hell, Aldridge has fooled around with the corner three lately -- he could totally learn adapt that part of his game with Dallas. Especially since Aldridge has never played with a pick and roll finisher like Tyson Chandler.
Perhaps the biggest boon would be the defense. Aldridge isn't in Tyson's class as a defender, but he's not in Dirk's either. With Aldridge and Chandler up front, the Mavs might have the most well-rounded front court in all of basketball. The nightmares of Josh Smith and Terrence Jones terrorizing Dirk in the pick and roll would be over as Aldridge is more capable in showing out on the perimeter and being a deterrent at the rim.
For me, there's one troubling sign with Aldridge: check his playoff numbers. He has a career playoff shooting percentage of 43.6 percent and in his first round series with Memphis back in April he posted an ugly 33 percent on 22 shots a game. He's starting to garner the nickname of big man Allen Iverson in NBA circles. Yikes.
Even then, Aldridge would be an insane get for the Mavs. They'd have their Dirk replacement and land a guy that can carry the team for the next five years or so. But considering the Mavs' history, it's hard to get your hopes up.