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Generally speaking, players in the Pacific Northwest tend to fly under the radar on the national stage.
There are a few different reasons for this. First, Portland isn't in the top-20 television markets, so the national media has less reason to really push storylines involving the Blazers. Obviously this can be lazy journalism but we live in an era of low-hanging fruit.
Second, the Pacific Northwest is perceived to be far away from nearly everyone. It is viewed as the last frontier, a far-off destination that attracts only fringe members of society.
Third, Portland operates in a different time zone, so their games tend to take place after the bed times of many national pundits.
Whatever the reason, star players that don Portland jerseys take a little longer to attract the attention of the nation at large.
Clyde Drexler obviously was a huge exception, but it took folks around the country years to realize Brandon Roy was the best shooting guard on the planet not named Kobe Bryant. And by then, his knees had already compromised much of his game.
Well the next player that is destined to attract the attention of the national media is LaMarcus Aldridge.
Aldridge has quietly been racking up statistics and, more importantly, improving his overall game.
Once known as the quiet big man that deferred to his teammates, Aldridge has assumed the role of leader of this team and is poised to start turning some heads.
For your basic Portland fan, this isn't big news. Aldridge has been spoiling them with fantastic play for years now.
But after being forced to really up his defensive game last year, Aldridge has quite simply become the top power forward in the league.
Dirk Nowitzki is on the downside of his career. Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are more centers than forwards at this point of their Hall of Fame careers. And with the emergence of the stretch 4 and hybrid forwards, there are very few elite power forwards left in the league.
The true debate now turns to Kevin Love versus LaMarcus Aldridge.
And while there are arguments that can be made for Love, Aldridge has the better overall game. He can score inside, outside and everywhere in-between. He can rebound and pass, and he has improved his interior post defense dramatically in recent years.
There has been talk that Aldridge is growing impatient and is looking for a change of scenery. But for all intents and purposes, he still is under contract for a couple more years and the Blazers should be able to hold on to him for the foreseeable future.
Now is the time for the league to take notice of this gem.