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Could LaMarcus Aldridge win MVP? Well, no, but let’s talk about it anyway

Sep 23, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol AP

Welcome to today’s “There’s a week left until training camp and I’d chew my own arm off if it meant I could blog about it” post.

Blazers Edge posted a link to a story on Rip City Project on Saturday night. It contained the following passage regarding LaMarcus Aldridge and a possible MVP bid:

It never ceases to amaze me how we go into seemingly every NBA season now with the hopes that Aldridge will finally get his due, but it never quite seems to materialize in the way that it should.  Kevin Love and Blake Griffin are the flashy up-and-comers whom most NBA fans seem to recognize and heap praise on. And although Aldridge is every bit as good (and probably better) than both of them, he never seems to get the respect he deserves.  Maybe that’s due in part to growing up in the NBA with Roy and Oden as far more recognizable teammates, but if so, the time for that is past.  Last season, the Blazers cut the cord with their past, and chose to move into a new era that has Aldridge as the central figure.

Sometimes perception is just as important as numbers when you talk about someone having an MVP-type season.  While Griffin and Love may put up bigger numbers, neither guy is as good as Aldridge on defense, and his arsenal of offensive attacks is far more vast than what either of his counterparts has to offer. Part of that is due to having more years in the league to develop, but because of Aldridge’s more well rounded game, the other two guys should not be mentioned before him in MVP talk.

Now, I’m not saying he will win an MVP, but wondering if he’s capable of having an MVP-type year.

via LaMarcus Aldridge: MVP Candidate, or Borderline All-Star? – Rip City Project – A Portland Trailblazers Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More.

Now, I’m not here to beat up on a small fan blog for posting a supportive piece about a player. The tone is pretty common on the series of tubes. “The media/people who don’t follow the team I like don’t understand how good the players are on the team I like and instead like other players as if they watched all the games and not just those of the team I like and therefore do not have enough information and they, not I, are woefully uninformed.”

But what I thought was interesting is the discussion of numbers versus versatility.

The way the above argument is framed, Love and Griffin have flashier numbers and that is why they receive the attention. In reality, Aldridge is considered less because of the issues with his numbers, not the superiority of Griffin’s and Love’s. Aldridge’s rebounding is in fact an issue. A lot of that is because of his role in the Blazers’ offense. You can’t throw out the usual pace argument, though, because his True Rebounding Percentage (percentage of all available rebounds snagged) still fell woefully behind Griffin and Love’s. That’s an issue.

But the core there is the versatility argument. Aldridge has more post moves than Love or Griffin, has the face-up jumper and some moves off the dribble (though Love’s versatility is pretty strong considering his range). Do we underrate versatility? You might be able to make that argument when we look at the candidacy of Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, even Steve Nash. But LeBron James kind of renders that point irrelevant. His strength lies not just in his brilliance, but in his versatility. That first point though, is where Aldridge gets tripped up.

He doesn’t shoot at an elite level. He doesn’t rebound at an elite level. It’s not enough to be able to do more than one thing if you don’t do any one single thing at a level which can be considered the best on any given night. He’s elite in the post so you can consider that, but it’s hard to really focus on that given how pitiful the Blazers’ offense was and how much they needed that, though that shouldn’t necessarily eliminate him. But the field goal percentage still hurts him there.

Now that I’ve made it seem like LaMarcus Aldridge is lacking in so many regards, let’s clear this up.

Aldridge is a fantastic player. He is the sun and the moon for the Blazers, and he’s remained so since his rookie season, despite the franchise constantly billing Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, then Nicolas Batum over him. He’s been an All-Star worthy player the past three years and yet still took so long to nab his spot. He doesn’t complain in the press, he doesn’t show up his opponent, he has an actual drop-step hook and he goes out and guns it every night when the Blazers aren’t tanking. He’s worthy of being on the list of consideration. He just can’t be considered a serious contender, because of the level of play in this league. It says nothing bad about Aldridge that he’s not on the serious list. It just says a lot about those who are.

And in the end, considering how he approaches the game, and his life, and the level of headaches he provides those around him, I’d rather have him than a lot of other candidates anyway.

  1. fanz928 - Sep 23, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Not in Portland

  2. nbascreed - Sep 23, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    There isn’t one person who knows basketball who will say with a straight face the Blake or Kevin Love (???) are better than LA. Not one. If at the end of the year Aldridge had broken out and put together an MVP worthy campaign, I would NOT be in the least bit surprised. I saw this guy up close and personal courtside, twice. His post game is second to only Pau (slightly) and LIGHT YEARS ahead of either Blake or Kevin Love.

    • mytthor - Sep 23, 2012 at 7:45 PM

      You have to be a ridiculous homer to think that LA is head and shoulders above Kevin Love. Love is a 3 point shooter, solid post threat, and one of the top 2 rebounders in the league. LA is a better post player, a worse shooter, a better defender, and a worse rebounder.

    • mnsportsfan - Sep 23, 2012 at 9:20 PM

      The argument is kind of moot because Love is such a different player than LA. Have both players switch teams and tell them to do exactly what the other does (LA rebounding and shooting 3’s and Kevin Love playing good defense putting his back to the basket) and they would both be terrible. So yes he might be “LIGHT YEARS” ahead of Love and Griffin in some aspects but that is only in what you are choosing to compare them in.

      And to speak to the “break out” you are expecting from Aldridge. It is more conceivable based on age and career statistics for either Love or Griffin to have more improvement next year as opposed to Aldridge who, based on trends, might already be nearer to the best player he is going to be.

      • nbascreed - Sep 23, 2012 at 11:12 PM

        1. The argument is not moot. The very fact that the NBA and/or associated personnel (writers, GM, etcs) may wrestle with the MVP decision involving LA, Blake and/or Love among others makes it the exact opposite of moot.

        2. I never said I was expecting LA to breakout and before you rush to conflate my original statement with your lazy interpretation tell me the difference in these two sentences.

        A. Grandma, if you keep eating fatty foods I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a heart attack.

        B. Grandma I know that you’re going to have a heart attack soon.

        See how different those feel. One is a conditional (me) the other is presented as a matter of fact (you interpreting me).

        3. To be clear I made two arguments which were:

        A. LA = Love and Blake

        This was in response to Matt’s implication that somehow LA was not on the same plane with Love and Blake. I disagreed, and stated that anyone who knew basketball would disagree. Love is a great story and Griff is a fun watch but LA has a demonstrated skill level that again, is unmatched (save Pau) in the whole entire league (Timmy and KG’s career brilliance notwithstanding).

        Whatever you think of Griff or Love, LA has a valuable asset which is the ability to get buckets in a 1:1 or 1:2 situations. Love and Griff do not yet possess that on any meaningful scale. Love shoots over 5 threes per game, which is way too many for a guy shooting just 36%.

        B. LA Post Game > Love/Blake Post Game

        I think this ones been settled to the boards satisfaction.

    • borderline1988 - Sep 24, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      They’re all pretty good if you ask me.
      Blake is the least skilled, but he’s by far the most explosive and has the most potential. In terms of playing with Chris Paul, he’s the best option.
      Love is a beast, who would win this competition hands down b/c of his rebounding and shooting, but his defense is abhorrent.
      Aldridge is the most skilled offensive player, but he’s not getting much better in my opinion. He’s also more of a guy you dump the ball to, rather than running set plays. Love and Griffin are better in the pick and roll. LA likes to pop in that situation, but he’s not an elite jump shooter.

      Also, Love has the smarts and coordination to develop a post game similar to LA’s. I have a feeling in a couple of years he will be just as good offensively in the post.

      But at the end of the day, you can’t discount defense. I’d probably say that Love is the best, followed by LA and then Griffin.

  3. nbascreed - Sep 23, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    Did you read my post? This is yet another example of PBT commenters strawmanning arguments. I never said he was “head and shoulders” above Blake or Love. But now, as a matter of fact (your admission), there is no debating that his post game is indeed superior which was my contention.

    See, we’re saying the same thing LA is a much better post player….

    • cosanostra71 - Sep 23, 2012 at 8:15 PM

      well to be fair you said he was light years ahead. its a matter of semantics

      • moseskkim - Sep 23, 2012 at 9:21 PM

        to be fair he said his post game is light years ahead which does not mean that he’s light years better overall.. just one part of his game.

        overall LA is the most talented of the bunch. He has real good touch. Love is grittiest. He puts up great #’s but he’s not as efficient. Griffin has the greatest athleticism. Grififn shoots a great % (don’t tell me its all dunks because he only dunks around 3 a game).
        MVP has a lot to do with flash. If minny becomes a top 5 team in the west, I think you can give the MVP to Love. Griffin has a long ways to go for MVP consideration. Even if LA plays well and portland makes it to the playoffs, no way he gets MVP. Only if portland is like top 2 in the West. Hes not flashy enough.

    • mytthor - Sep 23, 2012 at 11:27 PM

      If your contention is that not one intelligent basketball fan would say that Love is better than Aldridge, then by extension, LA is enough better than Love that there’s no room for discussion. Yes, head and shoulders was my choice of words, but I think it was a decent paraphrase of what you said.

      • nbascreed - Sep 24, 2012 at 7:30 AM

        Again, for the 3rd time you’ve misstated my contention. It was pretty clear (off tops I might add) that I was arguing LA = Love/Blake.

      • mytthor - Sep 24, 2012 at 9:27 PM

        “There isn’t one person who knows basketball who will say with a straight face the Blake or Kevin Love (???) are better than LA. Not one.”

        If you’re saying that you never said that LA was better than Kevin Love, then your contention is that what you were actually saying is that everyone who knows basketball thinks that Kevin Love is EXACTLY as good as Aldridge, and not a single person who knows basketball disagrees. Not better means either worse or the same. It’s logically unlikely that every single person thinks the exact same thing.

  4. jamesinva - Sep 24, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    Im a HUGEEEE trail blazers fan and i have to say….no..aldridge is no league MVP

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