AMC Masters of Their Craft: LaMarcus Aldridge

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Sponsor AMC asks us to name a Trail Blazer who has become a master of their craft. The choice was easy, but we don't appreciate the guy enough so this is a good opportunity to remember what LaMarcus Aldridge has done for the Blazers.

Sponsor AMC has asked each of SBNation's NBA blogs to write about a player from their team who has become a "Master of Their Craft". The selection from our point of view was pretty easy, but it gives us a chance to talk about something we often overlook in our rush to praise or criticize developing players. LaMarcus Aldridge has truly become a master of his craft.

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines "master" as "an artist, performer, or player of consummate skill". LaMarcus Aldridge has always been a good athlete, but the refinement of his "consummate skill" has enabled him to become a two-time All-Star and one of the most productive power forwards in the game.

If you'll recall, Aldridge took a couple years to figure out his offensive sweet spots. Blazer fans groaned as he launched turn-around jumpers from multiple positions, drifting farther and farther out from the basket as defenses pushed him beyond his comfort zone. Aldridge has added bulk and learned how to use it. When he sets nowadays he stays. This has allowed him to define his own range instead of having it forced upon him by defenders, making his turn-around the unstoppable menace analysts always speculated it would be. In the meantime his catch-and-shoot face-up shot has become so sure and so pure that you don't even question whether it's a good shot, you just try to guess if it'll draw rim before it goes in or whether it's going to swish.

The dual perimeter threat of face-up and left-side post has opened up driving lanes for Aldridge as well. His dribble isn't a thing of beauty, nor does he penetrate much, but when he does make that move he's good to go. He's enough of a triple-threat that defenses can't compensate.

Once upon a time Aldridge had good games and bad games. Now (except on rare occasions) he has good games and great games. He's on until he's really on...the mark of a true professional. That's just what Aldridge has become and offensively he's one of the best. If his teammates ever catch up to his level of consistency and production the Blazers will be a scary team.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Master of His Craft. Appreciate and enjoy him.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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