An empirical comparison of LaMarcus Aldridge to other top power forwards: Where does he rank? *Update: Additional ranking methodologies and Love's stats.

I began preparing this comparison shortly after completing the Batum comparison, but a bathroom remodel has kept progress slow. However, after reading about Doolittle's almost certainly asinine projection of the top-ten power forwards which LaMarcus Aldridge was not among, I felt compelled to finish it. This comparison is much like my others, utilizing per-36, advanced, on-off, and Synergy stats. However, because I knew that ranking was going to be a hot issue, I decided to add something new. Each player is now ranked against all of the others in every stat being compared. Utilizing these rankings, along with within group Synergy rankings, I have ranked the seven power forwards being compared. The chart descriptions will be shorter for this comparison because I feel that the rankings speak for themselves in most cases.

As always, I have color coded the players names. Differences are calculated as the absolute value of LaMarcus Aldridge’s stats minus the compared player’s stats. The differences are color coded by which player’s stats are better for a given metric.



For per-36, LA is strong in free throw %, assists, blocks, turnovers, fouls, and points. He is clearly weak in both offensive and defensive rebounding and lags behind in shooting %. Overall, he ranks third in per-36 stat rank averages behind Tim Duncan and Blake Griffin.



For advanced stats, LA's strengths are PER, block %, and turnover %. Overall, he ties for fifth in advanced stat rank averages with Dirk Nowitzki and falls behind Griffin, Ibaka, Duncan, and Lee.



For on-off, LA's strengths are just about everything. About the only negative you could target is that he was fourth in assist %. Overall, he ranks a strong first in on-off stat rank averages.



For Synergy, LA ranks right in the middle of the pack at fourth on defense, and at sixth on offense only by virtue of a slightly lower shooting percentage. Based on the actual Synergy ranking there is a three-way tie for fourth between Lee, Duncan, and Aldridge. One highlight would be that he is the best post-up defender of the group.



These rankings are based on the average of the average rankings for per-36, advanced, and on-off stats, and the within group Synergy defensive rankings. In the interest of full disclosure, Kevin Love's stats throughout this comparison on are based on the 18 games he played last year. On one hand, I don't think 18 games is enough for a truly representative sample, but on the other hand, that's what happens when you get injured and injuries should count against you. Overall, I'm not overly surprised by any of these rankings. I know some people aren't that impressed with Griffin, but based on all the stats he's earned his place.


I understand the argument that LeBron and Carmelo can be used as power forwards given the trend of positional fluidity in the modern game. I guess it comes down to which group of players you want to bump down in rank. Want to bump all the small forwards down two ranks, call LeBron and Carmelo small forwards. Want to bump all the power forwards down at least one rank, call LeBron and Carmelo power forwards. So if you personally want to call them power forwards then move everyone in these rankings down one or two spots. Either way, LeBron and Carmelo aren't going to show up here.

Neither is Anthony Davis going to show up here. If he puts up similar per-minute production, advanced stats, and avoids injury next season he'll absolutely warrant consideration at that time. But I don't rank rookies, especially not based on 64 games. Remember that Greg Oden had a pretty good rookie year and played 61 games himself.

As for Anderson, Faried, and Smith, I will probably end up adding them at some point next week after I get back from camping. For now, I stand by my projection that they won't impact LA's ranking. If I'm wrong you'll see it in cold hard numbers.

Now that that's out of the way, I have devised two additional ranking methodologies, as the one I included in the original publication is admittedly weak, giving minor stat categories equal importance to major ones like rebounding and scoring. These new methodologies focus primarily on rebounding, scoring, and defense.

The first additional ranking methodology is based on the formula [(PER + per-36 points + per-36 rebounds + on-off difference TRB% + on-off difference ORtg) x Synergy offensive PPP] / Synergy defensive PPP.

The second additional ranking methodology is based on the formula [(PER + per-36 points + per-36 rebounds) x Synergy offensive PPP] / Synergy defensive PPP. The major difference you'll notice between the first and second formulas is the lack of on-off in the second. Some people have claimed that on-off will favor Aldridge so I wanted to present something that doesn't include that potential bias.

Furthermore, these rankings use Kevin Love's 2011-2012 stats which are vastly better than his 2012-2013 stats. To be fair, Aldridge's stats were better in 2011-2012 than in 2012-2013 as well, but I am still using his most recent stats. This prejudices the rankings slightly in Love's favor as opposed to the original ranking with was biased against him.


Aldridge comes out ranked second and fourth respectively, while Duncan takes first in both rankings. However, in the ranking that doesn't consider on-off Dirk Nowitzki ties Duncan for first.

So under three different ranking methodologies, Aldridge ranks no lower than fourth. If, at worst case, you rank LeBron, Carmelo, Smith, Faried, and Anderson ahead of Aldridge, he's still in the conversation for top ten. And Lebron is really the only one of those players that's a lock to bump Aldridge down a spot.

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