Aldridge the Heir to Duncan’s Throne?
The parallels between (LaMarcus) Aldridge and (Tim) Duncan are hard to ignore. Physically, they are cut from the same mold, standing 6-foot-11 and weighing around 250 pounds. They entered the league at the same age as 21-year-olds, armed with inside-out shooting touches that justified their lofty prospect status. Aldridge was selected second in the 2006 draft behind Andrea Bargnani, while Duncan was the first name called by NBA commissioner David Stern on June 25, 1997.
After Duncan left Wake Forest, he was an overnight NBA star. Aldridge, however, took a few years before leaping into stardom, eclipsing the 20-point threshold for the first time in 2010-11. Bolstered by 50 percent shooting from the field, Aldridge scored 21.8 points per game for the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that needed Aldridge to step up with Brandon Roy banged-up.
But if you look at where Aldridge gets those 21.8 points per game, you’ll notice more similarities with The Big Fundamental. No one will match Duncan’s automatic bank shot (“Glass!”), but Aldridge is just as smooth with his midrange jumper. The advanced-statistics gold mine Hoopdata.com tells us that the Texas product shot 4.7 long 2s every 40 minutes last season, more than double what we’d expect from your average power forward.
No, his shooting percentage from that zone (41 percent) doesn’t quite match Dirk Nowitzki’s, but consider that Aldridge drilled long 2s at a better rate than Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony. That’s smooth.