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Cole Aldrich, nearly four years after being drafted in lottery, gets double-double in first career start

Mar 12, 2014, 11:11 PM EDT

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics Getty Images

BOSTON – As a swarm of media enclosed Cole Aldrich, the playful calls began from his teammates in the less-crowded areas of the New York Knicks locker room.

“Cole Stoudemire!”

“Cole Chandler!”

Aldrich could hardly contain his smile as he discussed his first career start with larger-than-usual-for-him audience. Without the Knicks’ highly paid big men, Amar’e Stoudemire (personal reasons) and Tyson Chandler) (recovery), Aldrich posted 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in New York’s 116-92 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

Just four years ago, Aldrich was the No. 11 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. After being acquired by the Thunder on draft night, Oklahoma City threw him into the James Harden trade before last season began. A few months later, the Rockets pawned him off to the Kings in the Thomas Robinson trade. Before this season, he signed an unguaranteed contract with the Knicks.

Wednesday, he got the game ball.

“We know how much work guys like that put in, guys like Cole put in,” said Carmelo Anthony, who scored 34 points. “We’re with him every day. We know how hard he works. And for him to have this opportunity tonight and be a big part of our team’s success tonight, it’s a good thing to see.”

Like Melo, Knicks coach Mike Woodson made no effort to hide his delight in the big man’s big night.

“Guys want to play. They complain they don’t get minutes and don’t get shots. I think, when you’re trying to build a team, guys have got to understand it’s not about who’s getting all the shots. It’s not about who’s playing all the minutes. It’s what you do with the minutes and what you’re doing when you’re in there,” Woodson said. “…I’m just happy for him, because he’s patiently waited all season and never once complained and just went about his business. And it paid off for him.”

When Aldrich made a free throw fewer than five minutes into the game, that eclipsed what was his season-long scoring average (0.9). He probably stretched the limits of his offensive game against Boston.

But his impressive rebounding could be sustainable.

Entering Wednesday, nobody had posted a higher rebounding percentage (23.9) in as many minutes (139). Though that’s a small sample, it matches his coach’s eye test.

“He can rebound out of his space, in his space. He takes up space,” Woodson said. “He’s got great hands.”

For Aldrich, there’s no secret formula to rebounding.

“I’ve always been a big kid when I was little, and that was kind of my job as a big kid, just having that hard-headed desire to come out and snag those,” Aldrich said.

Perhaps, Aldrich has an opportunity to get his wayward NBA career back on track. Will he snag that, too?

  1. nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:45 PM

    Good for him.

  2. jolink653 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:53 AM

    He played really well and took advantage of his spot in the starting lineup. I’m sure he’s earned an increase in minutes for the rest of the season

  3. vikesdynasty - Mar 13, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    Hard for a guy to show his talent against nba talent when he’s not on the court. Good for him. Hope he succeeds!

  4. irvfin3 - Mar 13, 2014 at 1:54 AM

    How come he hasn’t gotten PT in the past? He does have defense. Knicks better use him more!

    • caeser12 - Mar 13, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      Mike Woodson.

      No comment after that.

      Go NY.

  5. 00maltliquor - Mar 13, 2014 at 3:50 AM

    I love it. Good story. That’s what this is all about.
    I love the NBA!

  6. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 13, 2014 at 5:32 AM

    Yeah, Aldrich was never a Trail Blazer. The Robinson trade was him for two 2nds and the rights to 2 Euros. Would be a nice guy to have around though.

  7. cruzan80 - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    I look at this as just another indictment of Woodson. Knicks fans were begging for this guy to get more PT all year….especially when Chandler was out earlier this year.

    Instead he went with the older & undersized Kenyon Martin at center or Bargnani. Injuries are making Woodson look smarter than he actually is. This kid shouldve been playing more months ago. Same goes with Toure Murry.

  8. caeser12 - Mar 13, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    Kid deserves all the credit in the World.

    Woodson, not so much.

    Should have been using the bench Guys all year, not now when you HAVE to.

    Go NY.

  9. andreboy1 - Mar 13, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Cool story

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