Holdahl: Blazers GM Neil Olshey Talks LaMarcus Aldridge, Rebounding Struggles

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey defends All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge from criticism and says his team needs to improve its rebounding.

Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com has a transcript of a Sirius XM radio interview with Justin Termine and Mateen Cleaves in which Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey defends All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge and says his team's rebounding struggles need to be addressed.

LaMarcus Aldridge has been accused of being a little bit soft. What's your take on the criticism in Portland in regards to that.

"The Portland papers, and we've had the same writers that have been here forever, I don't know what they're looking at because the guy is all banged up. His back is jacked up, his wrist is messed up, he plays every night. He's been asked to do a lot more this year in terms of facilitating throughout he pinch post because that's the offensive system we're running. It's not his natural position; he's a left block, left elbow player. And I think he's adopted well. Look, he's averaging more field goal attempts than he ever has, he's averaging more assists that he ever has, he's a higher usage player. Last night, we clearly had an advantage down low, he went down low. There are nights when we feel like we open the floor up more if he's away from the basket at the high post or the elbow. He's sacrificed his own game for that and a little bit of his efficiency.

I think what happens, and Mateen can attest to this, when you bring in a new coach and a new system it's going to take 20 or 25 games for everybody to learn the system and then once everybody gets how we want to play, now we can tweak it and run more isolation and get him more touches in his sweet spot and that's what you've seen the last six or seven games. His efficiency has gone through the roof because he's getting more touches in his comfort zone. LaMarcus is anything but soft. The guy had 12 rebounds last night, he's guarding fours, he's guarding fives, he's playing a ton of minutes, he's playing hurt. He's gone from being a part of a veteran core to being the franchise player and the leader in the locker room. That's not the easiest adjustment either because we've got ever opposing defense schemed to stop him. He was getting double and tripled all night last night, be battled through it, he had a high efficiency game, he got to the line, he was eight for eight from the line. All but seven of his attempts last night were in the paint, so anybody who thinks LaMarcus Aldridge is soft hasn't been around our organization or they're not very cognizant of what is going on around our league."

...

How concerned are you about rebounding as you move forward?

"It's definitely an area of concern. We're not finishing off possessions, we're not defensive rebounding at the rate we need to. JJ Hickson has given us a lift in that area. With Meyers it's a matter of knowing, having a better feel for where the ball is coming off the rim and I think some of it is he gets lost in pick and roll rotations and he's caught out of position. He's so used to doing things with his length and athleticism and at this level you've got to just control your box out assignment. Like I said, I think our wings need to rebound better. That goes to everybody. Our guards need to control people crashing the glass, but it's definitely something we tried to address last offseason and it's something we'll continue to look to address through the trade deadline and next summer."

Blazers coach Terry Stotts also recently defended Aldridge from criticism. Aldridge was called "soft" recently by one columnist. Another writer wondered whether the Blazers should consider trading Aldridge. His drastic increase in perimeter shots was examined a few weeks back. I took a look at the redistribution of his shot locations earlier this season. His interior play has been much stronger of late.

The Blazers rank No. 23 in rebound rate.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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