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Blazers new coach plans to use Aldridge like Nowitzki

Sep 12, 2012, 8:18 AM EDT

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks - Game One

For the past few years, Terry Stotts was an assistant coach to Rick Carlisle in Dallas. Now, he’s the head coach in Portland. But he’s bringing a little of Texas to the Pacific Northwest.

Specifically, he wants to use LaMarcus Aldridge like Dallas uses Dirk Nowitzki. Something that could mean more minutes and opportunity for rookie big man Meyers Leonard.

Stotts was on Blazers Courtside — on TrailBlazers TV — and talked about how he wants to use Aldridge (transcription courtesy Blazers Edge).

I want to try almost everything that we did with Dirk, with LaMarcus, to get a comfort level. On the left block he’s as good of a block player as there is in the league. A pick-and-pop shooter for a big man, he’s almost on the same level as Dirk with mid-range. Dirk can take it out a little bit further, or at least he has. I’d like to expand his game a little bit. We would isolate Dirk at the free throw line, it’s very difficult for guys to double-team in that area. It creates a problem. That’s one area that we can explore with LaMarcus and expand his game in that way. He’s 27 years old and can improve.

Last year Aldridge got 41.3 percent of his offense from the post (and he shot over 50 percent) but he did a lot less on spot up (8.5 percent of his shots) and isolation (5.7 percent). Nowitizki was in the post a lot (29 percent of his looks) but he got 11.2 percent of his looks in isolation and 19.1 on spot up (catch-and-shoot looks). Aldridge is going to have to expand his game, for example he needs to shoot better than 35.6 percent on isolation sets, but this could be good for him. Aldridge actually shot well in spot up but can he keep that going with more touches? (Stats via My Synergy Sports.)

So if Aldridge is the four, who is the five? Rookie Leonard is going to get a look, Stotts said.

Like I said, I’ve been very impressed with him. I think it’s safe to say that Damian is going to be our starting point guard. That’s pretty much a given. Now, whether it’s because big men take more time or whatever, I don’t want to say today that Meyers is going to come along slowly. If he’s ready to start opening night, he’ll start opening night. To say that he’s going to be the starter opening night, I think that’s too early to say too.

With the Blazers building toward the future, they should give Meyers a lot of run. See if he and Aldridge can build some chemistry. See what you’ve got.

With Damian Lillard getting a lot of minutes at the point and the change in style for Aldridge, it’s going to be an interesting year of growth in Portland. Lots of questions but potentially a very good foundation.

  1. lakerryan - Sep 12, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    I think Portland is rebuilding the right way. By matching batums offer from Minnesota they have good young talent. I would use caution when trying to change the way LA plays. Play him where he is most comfortable. The 4 is his natural position anyways. I heard lillard tore it up in pro ams and workouts this summer. I don’t see this team being good next year but a few years down the road theyve done the right things and they have some good pieces. Much better than the kings wizards and bobcats for sure

  2. eventhorizon04 - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    I like Lamarcus as a power forward more than as a center, so I agree with that part.

    However, while it’s true that at age 27 he could still add more to his game, he’s also been in the NBA for 6 years, meaning he has a long track record that shows where he’s most effective and where he’s not as effective. I don’t know if moving a very effective low-post scorer away from the low-post and towards the free throw line is a great idea.

    I *usually* tend to favor adjusting the system to fit a player who already is an All-Star, rather than asking a veteran player to change to fit a system.

    Still – putting Batum-Aldridge-Leonard together forms an athletic and young 3-4-5 combination that should be formidable.

    • cmehustle - Sep 12, 2012 at 5:05 PM

      Yea I feel you on that. Plus Dirk got enough handles to move all over the court where as LaMarcus, well Im not sure about that with him. He’s got a good J tho so he could do the whole pick and pop thing.

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