LaMarcus Aldridge: Rasheed? or Rashard?


Here's a quick and dirty (and probably wrong, but what the hell) idea on how to improve the offensive flow of the Blazers. I'll ignore the Andre/Roy issues, and focus on the post.

The Problem:  With Oden manning the post and being a beast, along with LMA assuming his usual position on the high blocks, there's less room for the guards to drive to the hoop--with our bigs down there, so is the defense, and in position to challenge the shot.  This is exacerbated in Miller is in the game, as he isn't a legimate threat from deep (it would be nice if HE knew that, but that's beside the point).

With that in mind, we shall focus on LaMarcus Aldridge, in particular his role on offense.  Right now, most of his shots in the halfcourt offense are medium-range jumpers, often of the turnaround variety.  That shot, coupled with his general skill at outside shooting, his ability to run the court, and his tendency to avoid physical play inside, has long prompted comparisons with Rasheed Wallace--originally, he was touted as Sheed without the issues.  On defense, not so much--Wallace is one of the best defensive PFs in the game, LaMarcus, not so.  But on offense, the comparison is somewhat valid.

But Rasheed has never in his career played with a beast like Oden.  The centers have played with include high-post behemoths (Sabonis), and defensive specialists (Davis, Ben Wallace, Kendrick Perkins)--guys who generally get out of the way on offense.  Prior to this year, LMA has been paired with defensive specialists (Prz--we'll forget Jamaal Magloire) in the post, and as a result has had room to work.  But now he's got Oden.

The solution?  It might not work--LMA hasn't focused much on long range play--but maybe it's time to follow the sage advices of guys like Stan Van Gundy and Rudy Tomjonavic, on How To Win With a Dominating Big Man. 

I'm talking some form of the wagon wheel offense.  I'm talking about taking Aldridge out of the post altogether, and turning him into a face-up jumpshooter on offense, including letting him launch 3s.  I'm talking about turning him not into Rasheed Wallace, but instead into Rashard Lewis.

The Orlando Magic have been kicking lots of butt this year with a lineup not dissimilar to our own in many respects.  You have an intelligent penetrating point guard (Nelson/Miller), a dominant wing player (Vince Carter/Brandon Roy), and a dominating big man (Howard/Oden).  But look at the forward spots--the Magic choose to employ TWO perimeter weapons, leaving Howard alone in the post on offense.  Last year it was Rashard and Turkey-glue; this year Hedont is gone, replaced with Ryan Anderson.  While Lewis is a volume scorer, Anderson plays the reliable-jumpshooter-when-open role--albeit on who can play credible defense on big men at the other end.  (A weakness of last year's Magic was trouble guarding opposing 4s; as neither Lewis nor Hedo were strong post defenders).

For an older example, consider Clyde's rockets.  With Hakeem in the middle, and four perimeter players (Horry, Mad Max, Clyde, and Kenny Smith) all of whom the defense had to account for.

So maybe rather than lining up to the elbow with his back to the basket, LaMarcus ought to channel his inner Rashard and play facing the basket.  Assuming he can improve his range to keep his defender out of the post, he might become a feared weapon--at 6'11" not many defenders will be able to block his shot.  He can still crash the offensive boards, and venture inside to set picks if necessary.  Many LMA critics will of course scream bloody murder (much criticism of him seems to derive from the belief that all power forwards should be Karl Malone)--but

So maybe the solution for the Blazers woes on offense is for LMA, rather than doing what lotsa folks want him to do (take it inside!), is to do the exact opposite.  He seems to have the range (although he doesn't take 3s very often, and when he does they're frequently high degree-of-difficulty shots against the clock), and he's long and lean enough to still crash the boards.  And it would clear out the middle for Oden and the guards to operate.

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