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When Portland swapped Tyrus Thomas for LaMarcus Aldridge on draft night six years ago, there were some who were less than excited about the prospect.
After all, Thomas was known for rim-shattering dunks and amazing athleticism and Aldridge was thought of as a somewhat undersized power forward who needed to add weight. But after a somewhat underwhelming rookie season, Aldridge has taken off. Over his last three seasons, he has averaged over 20 points per game.
What is great about Aldridge is that he does this in a myriad of ways. He can score with his back to the hoop, on the perimeter and on either elbow.
The development that should have all Blazers fans drooling is just how well Aldridge has taken to the pick-and-roll game.
Damian Lillard is your classic pick-and-roll point guard. He has the quickness to get to the hoop on the show, but more importantly he can step back and drill the three-pointer like few can in this league.
Aldridge has become such a valuable weapon as the picker. Because of his great range, Lillard can dish back to him and Aldridge can drill the 18-footer.
Additionally, Aldridge has the quickness and athleticism to roll to the hoop after the pick, making this a nearly unstoppable combination.
This season, Aldridge has taken the next step toward becoming an elite big man—he is playing defense. Sure, part of this comes from the fact that Hickson is undersized, but Aldridge is on pace to have his best season in blocks, and his defensive rebounds are over a board above his career average.
Aldridge is stepping up and this is a huge reason for the Blazers' success.