Remember when LaMarcus Aldridge was the signing of the 2015 offseason ? It wasn’t that long ago when people were talking about him being one of the top five big men in the National Basketball Association. However, you wouldn’t know it by looking at his production this postseason. Sure, he’s averaging 15 points per game and 47 percent shooting from the field. That’s not bad, but one would think $19 million per year would get the San Antonio Spurs more bang for their buck.
He averaged 22 points per game just last postseason, so it’s not a matter of ability or whether he can get enough touches in the Spurs system that features a more ball-dominant Kwahi Leonard as the go to guy. His field goal percentage, free throw percentage, rebounds, blocked shots and assists are down from last year’s playoffs, but the minutes are up.
So what gives? Could it possibly be a health issue? Just a few months back, Aldridge missed some time with due to treatment for Wollf-Parkinson-White Syndrome and was given a clean bill of health by team officials.
But there is no telling what toll this health scare could have taken on LaMarcus’ psyche. Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome is an abnormality in the heart where an extra electrical pathway causes arrhythmia, palpitations and possible cardiac arrest. Aldridge underwent treatment in 2011 after a recurrence of his condition and missed the first two months of the regular season.
But there have been several moments in this series where Aldridge has looked confused and unsure of himself, both on offense and defense. A step slow, a step short and a step late has been his modus operandi throughout the playoffs. For example, there were several plays where he has had a smaller man on him in the low post but let them off the hook defensively by shooting a fade away jump shot or by not simply taking the ball up strong for a two-handed finish. He’s not asserting himself and making these playoffs HIS house.
Yes, he has a Charmin soft touch around the basket, but he needs to get some lead in his britches in the painted area, ASAP. Additionally, all of the Houston Rockets guards and wing players have been undeterred in challenging him at the rim, and when he has to cover them in space off the pick and roll, Aldridge has been left in the dust, often. I could have SWORN he was a better defender in space when he was in Portland. He used to kill Houston on both sides of the ball.
For now, the Spurs are in a 2-2 dogfight with a Rockets team lead by PG James Harden, an MVP candidate with plenty of axes to grind. If Aldridge doesn’t wake up quick it could be a long summer for him and the San Antonio Spurs.