By: Rob Botts
Minutes after former free agent superstar LaMarcus Aldridge announced on Twitter that he would be taking his considerable low post and mid range talents to the San Antonio Spurs, you could hear what sounded like thousands of champagne corks all popping at the same time in celebration all across the River Walk area. Spurs management and the man they call “Pop”, head coach Gregg Popovich, had gotten the man who was going to help the best coach in the business be there on the pine for the remainder of his five-year contract extension he signed shortly after the Spurs won the NBA title this past year.
Aldridge has been the man up in Portland for quite some time now, and was looking to go to a team where he could win a ring now while being the man again, or the “man in waiting” at the same time. LaMarcus has been in the league a sneaky long nine years, but is only 29 years of age. He is in his prime right now, and ready to make a difference to the Spurs. He has a very mature post game that consists of jump hooks from either hand, along with multiple spin moves, up and under scoops and fade-away shots from both blocks. He also has the shooting range to take big guys just inside the three-point arc from either wing, or the top of the key for his high release jumper that he nails with great consistency. Aldridge rebounds very effectively as well.
The current trend we are seeing all across the NBA is that teams are attempting to go play “small ball.” In every major pro-sport, the copy cats come out when a team wins a championship in an unconventional way as the Golden State Warriors just did. This way of playing, where you are essentially getting rid of the standard big center position, has been an extremely popular move since there are no centers out there to really speak of. If Timofey Mozgov of the Cleveland Cavaliers continues to improve and puts up big numbers like he did in the most recent Finals, we will have another discussion then. Fans of the Spurs will enjoy a two-headed front court monster that will give the now “small” league fits. That kind of talent upfront, along with Danny Green and Tony Parker on the outside, with lane slasher Manu Ginobili coming from all angles, the Spurs are now the favorites by many analysts to come out of the Western Conference.
It’s always nice going home after a time away. Just ask LeBron James. LaMarcus Aldridge will be playing now in his home state of Texas, where two other local franchises lost out on his services: the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks. Other teams who did not have the good fortune of residing within the state lines of Texas or such a strong and recent championship history were, in no particular order: The Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers. Oh, and Pat Riley of Miami Heat fame tried to wine and literally dine LaMarcus, but he had already made up his mind. Nothing wrong with letting yourself get courted from time-to-time though.
With the addition of Aldridge, the San Antonio Spurs are in prime position for the current run of this season, and for the time in the near future when one of the greatest players of all time in Tim Duncan decides to finally hang up his kicks for good. But that’s for later.
For now? Get your champagne bottles ready.
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)