The Blazers are starting to get used to life without All-Star guard Brandon Roy, winning nine straight at home, and seven of their last ten. There has been no bigger catalyst in Portland’s improved play than the emergence of forward LaMarcus Aldridge. As question marks surround Roy’s future, Aldridge has begun to shoulder his burden, taking his game to another level to keep the Blazers afloat.
We’ve always known he could hit the outside jumper, owning one of the smoothest strokes of any big man in the league. But now Aldridge is supplementing his outside game with an expanding low post repertoire. Game by game Aldridge is building confidence with his back to the basket, and his newfound assertiveness has been the impetus in Portland’s surge. Amidst another season in which Portland has been plagued by injuries, Aldridge is developing into one of the top young power forwards in the game. And the Blazers are going to have to climb on his back to make the playoffs.
There were times in his career when his toughness and will were called into question, but with every 20-10 performance those questions are fading. We are even seeing a rebounding prowess of late that has always been absent, grabbing double digits boards in 8 of his last 11 games. Over that stretch, he’s averaged 25.5 points and 10.5 rebounds, making the case not just to make the all-star team, but to start.
Teammate Marcus Camby said of his play, “It would be a shame if he’s not an all-star this year for us. He has been that productive.”
Blazer fans have been waiting in earnest for him to utilize his superior athleticism to dominate games on a nightly basis, and in the last month he has made tremendous strides in that regard. The next step for Aldridge will be to demonstrate he can consistently make good decisions as the number of double teams he gets continues to grow. But there’s no question now, the Blazers go as LA does. His ascent thus far is the silver lining in a time which Portland finds itself in limbo as it ponders Roy’s options for the future. It’s clear though, that future now must be built around Aldridge and newcomer Wes Matthews, and in the next month Portland will face crucial decisions as to how to go about doing so.
We will talk about that more and more as the trading deadline approaches. But for now Blazer fans deserve to enjoy a team fighting to define itself without it’s franchise player. And perhaps take pleasure in the arrival of a new one.
About the Author
Written by Brandon Marcus
I am 25 year old native New Yorker. I went to the University of Florida where I got my degree Sports Management. I am a die hard fan of the New York Giants, Knicks, Mets and the movie, Die Hard. I'll be covering the Portland Trail Blazers, but also will keep my eye on the league as a whole, and will drop in from time to time with some random thoughts.