People often forget that two years ago NBA center Cole Aldrich was the 11th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Taken by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Aldrich has flown under the radar since coming into the league as a rarely-used reserve big man.
That's about to change.
Aldrich was traded from Oklahoma City to Houston on Saturday night, along with teammates James Harden, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward, according to a report from ESPN.com. In return, the Thunder acquired Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round draft picks and one second-round draft pick.
Although most NBA fans and experts are focused on James Harden—and rightfully so as he's one of the league's emerging superstars—the addition of Cole Aldrich is an underrated and excellent one by Houston GM Daryl Morey.
With paint-clogging center Omer Asik already on board in the Rockets' frontcourt, Houston has now set themselves up for instant success, adding another stellar rebounder and interior defender who is only going to improve with more playing time in Clutch City.
Will Cole Aldrich average more or less than 20 minutes per game in 2012-13?
Aldrich averaged just 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds in less than seven minutes per game last regular season with the Thunder. During the playoffs, Aldrich averaged two points and 2.6 rebounds in just five minutes per game. So, just imagine what the 6'11" role player could do with twice as many minutes per night while playing alongside another seven-footer.
Before Saturday night's trade, Aldrich had averaged seven rebounds in less than 24 minutes per game for the Thunder during the preseason. The third-year big even reeled in 13 offensive rebounds in six preseason contests.
Aldrich's rebounding prowess is vital to Houston's success this season, and that's why he will see increased minutes under head coach Kevin McHale. The Rockets ranked 15th in the NBA last season in rebounds per game, and now that they have another big, bulky body to stick in the paint, they should improve drastically in that category.
If Aldrich can give the Rockets six points on close to 55 percent shooting and six rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench consistently this season, Houston will have one of the top defensive and rebounding front court rotations in basketball.
Given Aldrich's size, skill set and vast improvement this preseason, we can come to only one conclusion about his future in Houston: He will excel with more playing time in 2012-13.
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