Blazer's Edge Rewind: A year ago, we discussed whether LaMarcus Aldridge ranked as one of the 10 greatest players in Portland Trail Blazers history. Take a few minutes to go back in time, and don't forget to read the very fascinating comments.
It was a rough stretch for both Aldridge and the team. After winning 33 games, Aldridge seemed unhappy, and rumors spread that Cleveland was trying to wrest him from the Blazers' grip.
What a difference a year makes.
Despite lots of 2013 offseason rumors, not only did Aldridge stay put, he further blossomed alongside newly-acquired center Robin Lopez. After a crazy season, Aldridge's national buzz skyrocketed as he led the Blazers (with some help from a clutch Damian Lillard) to their first series victory in 14 years, a six-game classic against the Houston Rockets.
So, it's time for the inevitable question: Is Aldridge now, without a doubt, one of the top ten Blazers in franchise history?
Now, I'm not going to rehash the qualifications for "Greatest" (which is understandably subjective). I spelled this out in detail in my previous article, so if you didn't read it above, here's another chance! One important reminder: We're only discussing players during their time in a Blazers jersey.
Let's update LaMarcus Aldridge's stats, including his position in team history:
Averages: 18.9 points, 48.8% FG, 8.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.0 blocks
Career: 8 seasons, 10,901 points, 4,708 rebounds, 1,137 assists,
Awards: Three time All-Star, All-NBA Third Team (2014 TBD), All-Rookie First Team
Blazers Top 10: Points (3rd, was 7th), Rebounds (5th, was 6th), Minutes (4th, was 8th), Free Throws (5th, was 9th), Blocks (7th, was 8th), Points Per Game (7th, was 6th)
Advanced Stats: PER (Still 5th), Win Shares (4th, was 5th)
Postseason Success: 2014 Conference semifinals, and three-first round exits.
Based on his current averages, Aldridge will surpass Terry Porter to become Portland's No. 2 all-time scorer in his 19th game next season.
His ranking of 5th for overall rebounds is somewhat deceptive. The next few names (fellow Top-10 candidates Buck Williams and Mychal Thompson) are barely above him. Based on a 10 rebounds-per-game average (Aldridge actually averaged 11 this season), he'll pass both of them and move into No. 3 all time after the first 18 games. If he plays more than 65 games during the 2014-15 season, he'll surpass both Jerome Kersey and current leader Clyde Drexler to become the Blazers' all-time leading rebounder.
Last year, the near-consensus on Aldridge was: "He's probably one of the 10 best players, but it would be nice if he could get out of the first round." Now his resume includes an immediately-legendary first-round victory, plus a heightening of his position in the rarefied air of the statistically elite Blazers.
As a refresher, assuming Drexler, Porter, Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and Geoff Petrie are in everyone's top 10 list, here are the likely candidates for the other 5 spots:
- LaMarcus Aldridge
- Buck Williams
- Arvydas Sabonis
- Cliff Robinson
- Sidney Wicks
- Mychal Thompson
- Brandon Roy
- Rasheed Wallace
- Jim Paxson
- Jerome Kersey
Tough call. Remember, though, that it's quite possible that Aldridge will be Portland's No. 2 all-time leading scorer and the franchise's all-time leading rebounder by this time next year.
- Is LaMarcus Aldridge now in your Top 10? And if so, who did he knock out?
- Where does he rank overall? What does he need to do to reach the Top 5?
- How does he compare to Buck Williams and Jerome Kersey, who went on two nearly-magical runs to the NBA Finals, but had the advantage of playing next to Blazer legends Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter?
- Alternatively, how does he compare to Mychal Thompson, who has lesser but somewhat similar numbers, while reaching the second round twice next to fellow Top-10 candidate Jim Paxson?
Debate away in the comments, as we consider what this post might look like a year from now.