With the second overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls selected Texas power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. His draft rights were then traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for the rights to LSU power forward Tyrus Thomas.
The Blazers definitely got the better end of the deal.
Prior to the draft, Aldridge was considered to be one of the best prospects in the nation because of his length and potential.
He is perhaps one of the best in the league in the post, using his body length to shoot over defenders and grab offensive rebounds. Aldridge is also very aggressive in the post, as he has long arms and can practically do anything in the paint.
Aldridge also has an excellent shot within 12 feet of the basket, knocking down a high percentage of his shots. He transcends on the offensive side of the ball with Tim Duncan-like fundamentals and excellent footwork.
He runs the floor very well for a near 7'0" player and can go from end-to-end with more speed than some small forwards. If the Blazers chose to use the fast break more, he would be an ideal fit, as he is a very good player in transition.
Aldridge has been considered to be a very good shot-blocker, although he really hasn't showed that thus far in the NBA. He could definitely improve on his blocks, he will look to do that in the upcoming years.
The big man is also a very good rebounder, especially on the offensive glass.Through his first five seasons, he has averaged 2.8 offensive rebounds, compared to just an average of 4.7 defensive rebounds.
He is very good at the free-throw line for a big man, averaging just above 77 percent for his NBA career.
However, there are a few flaws in his game, as he is just an average shooter. In his career, he is shooting a mere 49 percent, which is low for a big man. Aldridge will more than likely improve on that this season, as he has a very good basketball IQ.
He appears to have all the tools to become one of the best power forwards in the league. Aldridge has an exceptional offensive game, along with a decent defensive mind. The forward could look to Gerald Wallace for help, as he is one of the best in the NBA on defense.
Aldridge has been considered "soft" by some, but he has gotten more aggressive as of late and has slowly added more weight and muscle to his frame. One of the main concerns with Aldridge were his health concerns. Many thought that he would end up like his teammate Greg Oden, but instead has been quite the opposite.
Over the last four seasons, Aldridge has missed just 10 games out of a possible 328 games. He has proven that he could stay healthy if needed, so his injury concerns shouldn't be a problem (He might want to talk to Brandon Roy about that).
He was very close to making the All-Star game this season, but there were just too many quality big men in front of him. If he continues to steadily improve, I think he'll be a lock to make the All-Star game next season.
The forward is just 25 years old, so he is entering the prime of his career.
Aldridge is just too good to sink into mediocrity. The fans will be hearing his name for years to come, as he will become one of the best power forwards in the league over the next few years.
But, for now, let's do a little review of his NBA career thus far.
During his rookie season, Aldridge was forced to be the backup to veteran Zach Randolph. He missed the first seven games due to offseason shoulder surgery. However, he did return to the lineup and made a good impact.
During his first 14 games, Aldridge shot 54 percent from the field, while averaging 8.4 points per game.
Starting center Joel Przybilla suffered an injury in Feb. 2007, so Aldridge was inserted into the starting rotation as the center.
He played even better at that point, averaging 14.7 points and eight rebounds in the month of March. He was the runner-up to teammate Brandon Roy for the Western Conference Rookie of the Month Award.
On March 31, 2007, against the Clippers, Aldridge was taken to the hospital after an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. He was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome on Apr. 9, 2007. Aldridge would go on to miss the last eight games of the regular season.
For his rookie season, Aldridge averaged nine points and five rebounds in 63 games, including 22 starts.
During his sophomore season, the big man set career-highs in almost every statistic across the board after starting and playing in 76 games.
Aldridge showed that he could be a valuable power forward in the league after averaging 17.8 points and 7.6 rebounds. He finished third in the Most Improved Player voting behind winner Hedo Turkoglu and Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay.
He would go on to do even better in his third season, as his stats got better each month throughout the year.
For October and November, Aldridge averaged just 15.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, and shot just 45.4 percent from the field. The following month, he would improve to 18.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and shoot 49.8 percent. The last month of the regular season, January, Aldridge shot 51.7 percent, while averaging 19.2 points and 7.8 rebounds.
He would finish the year averaging 18.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Aldridge's numbers would remain just about the same during his fourth season, but his rebounding numbers slightly increasing to eight for the first time in his career.
Oft-injured center Greg Oden suffered a season-ending injury in December, so Aldridge was able to get more offensive opportunities after he finally received more minutes.
Aldridge's 2010-11 season could be considered his breakout season thus far, as his numbers increased in just about every category.
He ranked in the top ten in quite a few categories: minutes played (second), field goals (seventh), field goal attempts (eighth), offensive rebounds (fourth), minutes per game (third), and offensive win shares (tenth).
He was also named the Western Conference's Player of the Month for February.
Due in large part to Aldridge's great season, the Blazers compiled a 48-34 record. However, they could be considered a "regular season team", as they have lost in the first round of the playoffs for the last three seasons.
Aldridge averaged 21.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game this season and those numbers are more than likely going to improve this upcoming season. Aldridge has all the capabilities to become one of the best frontcourt players in the league and I think we will definitely see that over the next few seasons.
His potential is just too high and with the players he's surrounded by, Aldridge will be putting up quality numbers. Hopefully, he can make his team better and get them past the first round.
I think Aldridge will help them complete that challenge next season.
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