One national writer picks Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge for his 2013 All-Star team.
Zach Lowe of Grantland.com writes that Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge makes his All-Star team, selecting him over Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph.
That leaves Lee, Randolph, and Aldridge for two spots. All three rank as average or worse defenders, and Lee is probably at the bottom, even though he's worked harder on that end - and on the boards - this season. He's always going to be undersized and slow, with a short wingspan that limits his ability to protect the rim and contest shots in the post; opponents have shot a robust 48 percent against him in post-ups this season, per Synergy Sports, and the Warriors often have to send him help.
The Blazers don't have to send Aldridge help, and his head-to-head assignments are just 20-of-70 against him in the post, per Synergy. Aldridge's defense has probably regressed or plateaued since his breakout 2010-11 season, but he's still pretty quick, comfortable defending the pick-and-roll in several different ways, and tall/long enough to be a factor down low even when his effort and positioning wane.
Aldridge's jumper-happy start to the season hurt his efficiency, but he has found a bit more balance in his shot selection during the last month or so as he and Terry Stotts develop their player-coach chemistry. Aldridge can be a Randolph-style post bulwark when he wants to be, and he's shooting only two percentage points worse than Z-Bo for the season. He's a better/longer defender in space, though not in Randolph's league on the glass.
Basically: This is an impossible choice. But since I have to make one, I'll reward Lee for his 52 percent shooting - easily the best among three offense-first players - and ability to work as an efficient cog in just about every way the Warriors' offensive system could ask. Aldridge gets the nod over Randolph for working as the clear no. 1 guy on his team, even if Damian Lillard has seized that mantle in crunch time. But if you want Randolph, that's absolutely fine.
The Blazers sent out a fact sheet making Aldridge's All-Star case on Monday and Erik Gundersen of Blazers.com played up his defensive skills recently. David Aldridge of NBA.com has LaMarcus Aldridge on his All-Star team. Marc Stein of ESPN.com did not.
Aldridge finished 11th among Western Conference frontcourt players in this year's voting. The coaches will announce the reserve selections on Thursday.
As of now, I still think the West's All-Star roster will look like this.
Starters (fan vote): Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard
Reserves (coaches vote): LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Marc Gasol, James Harden, David Lee, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook
That matches up with Lowe's 12 picks for his All-Star team except he took the liberty of dropping Howard and inserting Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
Hat tip on the link: Casey Holdahl at Blazers.com
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter