This season there has been some rumblings about Lamarcus Aldridge shot selection and lack of post play. His FG% is the worst in his career as he has taken more jump shots per game than another player in the NBA. While Aldridge is not a terrible mid-range shooter, it obviously is a lower percentage shot than a low post shot. Terry Stotts has defended the shot selection and the play of Aldridge, saying that He has done everything the system calls for. The question is, why does the system call for jump shots by Aldridge? There are several reasons that have been floating around why this is the case. Some have said it is easier for Aldridge to get an entry pass on the elbow and work from there, however the team has shown the ability to get the ball to Aldridge in the low post in the past. Others have said that Stotts is treating Aldridge like he is Dirk.
The biggest problem of having Aldridge parked in the low-post is that the spacing is thrown off because of J.J. Hickson. In seasons past the Blazers had Camby floating on the opposite baseline or at the elbow to get the ball into Aldridge in the post. When Kurt Thomas was on the floor he would simply float around the mid range wings and be available for an open mid range jumper when teams double teamed Aldridge down low. The Problem now is that Hickson is not a good passer or good jump shooter to work with Aldridge from the high post. The team has chose to play Hickson underneath the basket, because that is simply where he does he best work - getting rebounds and easy buckets off lose balls. The downfall of this strategy is that it forces Aldridge to take jump shots as there is no room to work with down low because Hickson is there.
So what is the solution? The Blazers have tried to have Hickson in the high post and Aldridge in the low post on several occasions, but Hickson is a liability there, as he cannot dribble under pressure and is not known for his passing ability or mid range shot. Against the Bobcats the Blazers got Aldridge in the low post by taking Hickson out of the game altogether and as a result Aldridge had arguably the best game of the season. In reality the Blazers might be better off starting Leonard instead of Hickson in the long run. While Leonard is still a liability on defense, he works better in the high post than Hickson because he can set good screens up high and has an ability to make the mid range shot that Hickson can't. Unfortunately Leonard clearly is not ready to play starting minutes. Against the Bobcats the Blazers used Luke Babbitt at the Power Forward position which worked like a charm for that game. Babbitt took his opposing defender out of the Paint and as a result Aldridge had more room to work with in the paint, especially in the pick and roll situations. The obvious problem is that Babbitt is so bad defensively that the strategy wouldn't work in the long run. If Freeland were to play like he did in Europe he would be a good compliment to Aldridge because he has shown he has the ability shoot the outside shot. The Blazers also could play Batum at the PF position against certain teams and play Will Barton. These are all stop-gap solutions though.
The fact is that the Blazers are an incomplete team and as a result the system is not as efficient as it could be when you have two players that don't complement each other.