Aldridge Must Get Back To The Paint

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — LaMarcus Aldridge is at it again.

Drifting from the basket, failing to get into the low post and settling for jumpers.

Two years ago, Aldridge transformed his game by getting into the paint a lot more than he did in his first four seasons in the league. The transformation helped him become an All-Star last season. But now, he’s gone jumper-happy again, and the issue is much more pronounced than it ever was.

LaMarcus Aldridge’s shooting, career
Season %FGAP FG% FTA Rate
2006-07 50.7% 50.3% .240
2007-08 46.7% 48.4% .257
2008-09 46.8% 48.4% .269
2009-10 45.3% 49.5% .260
2010-11 58.5% 50.0% .314
2011-12 46.4% 51.2% .291
2012-13 30.8% 43.0% .112
Total 49.0% 49.4% .273

%FGAP = % of total FGA taken from the paint

It’s simple math. Aldridge has made 58.3 percent of his shots from the paint over his career, and he’s made 41.8 percent of his shots from between the paint and the 3-point line (a far cry from Dirk Nowitzki, who’s a career 46.8 percent shooter from mid-range).

Right now, Aldridge is shooting a paltry 43 percent overall and he’s gone to the free-throw line just 12 times in five games. It’s early, but he’s having the worst season of his career, and you can easily point to his shot selection as the reason why.

Jason Quick of The Oregonian sees the problem. But apparently, neither Aldridge nor Blazers coach Terry Stotts does, as Quick writes in Friday’s paper

I’m not against Aldridge shooting jump shots. He is a terrific outside shooter. But long-range jump shots shouldn’t be his bread-and-butter.

In a salty postgame interview Thursday after 7-for-17 shooting night, Aldridge said he doesn’t believe he is shooting too many jumpers.

“I don’t,” Aldridge said. “Obviously you do, you asked the question.”

And coach Terry Stotts, at least publicly, is saying Aldridge’s shot selection is not of concern.

But the numbers don’t lie.

Read the entire article, because it’s right on point. Aldridge gets even testier with his responses to Quick and Stotts seems to brush the issue off as a result of what other teams are doing defensively.

The Blazers are going to be a bad defensive team this season. That’s a given already. They rank 27th defensively through Thursday, allowing 107.4 points per 100 possessions. They fell off a cliff on that end of the floor when they got rid of Gerald Wallace and Nate McMillan. And all you really need to know about their defense is that they start J.J. Hickson at center.

But with Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Aldridge and Hickson, they can be a pretty good offensive team and, therefore, stay somewhat competitive in the Western Conference.

Right now, Portland ranks 16th offensively, scoring just 99.7 points per 100 possessions, which is below the league average. They’ve attempted just 41 percent of their shots from the paint, the third-lowest rate in the league.

Over the years, there hasn’t been a correlation between the percentage of shots a team takes from the paint and its offensive efficiency. But it’s clear that the Blazers need Aldridge to get in the low post and get to the line. If he continues to float around the perimeter, they’re going to struggle on both ends of the floor, and it could be a very ugly season in Portland.


  1. The numbers don’t lie! Aldridge’s always been a guy shy of contact IMO though

    • Tycoon says:

      Yeah, in your opinion.

      Have you ever even seen a Blazer game?
      Aldridge bangs down low more than most PFs and Cs in the league.

  2. BSaintM says:

    This is a dumb article, no offense John but are you incompetent or just ignorant? Aldridge is playing within the offense that Stotts designed. Instead of calling out Aldridge why not call out Stotts? I think it is crazy to say its all on LA when he is clearly being defended more than last year and is adjusting to a new coach and system. Look at DH12 he is in a new system and is averaging less points and rebounds than usual, look at Ryan Anderson he is having a bad year in terms of stats after being on a new team. It’s only been a few games, this article is a huge overreaction to early season struggles.

  3. Tycoon says:

    I agree 100%

    No disrespect to LA cuz he does have those nights where it seems like he can hit any shot from anywhere inside the 3pt line.
    BUT, nobody can argue that he is better off shooting jumpers rather than taking it into the paint.
    LA is one of my favorite players and I believe once he starts taking it to the rim more often, he’ll get his mojo back.
    It will even open up more looks for him in the mid range game.

    You didn’t put on all that muscle for nothin, LaMarcus!

  4. The Blazers should not be a bottom defensive team. If Aldridge becomes more of an anchor defensively, they have excellent perimeter defenders in Matthews & Batum. Now on offense, I did not like how McMillan had them running the slow paced offense of years past, but they should use Aldridge post ups or Aldridge/Lillard pick & rolls as their number one option in half court sets. Outside of that, they should be running on rebounds & turnovers to take advantage of Lillard’s speed & their athleticism on the wing. Portland should not be having Aldridge hovering around the free throw line & shooting too many jumpers when he can be the dominant player that we’ve seen him show himself to be in the last couple of years. Perhaps the losing is taking a toll because Aldridge was improving his game progressively each of his years in the league. Either way, John & Jason are both correct about him needing to get his butt back in the paint.

  5. JAMES OPLE says:

    Blazers should put aldridge in the post coz hes more effective there and sit will also open up opportunities for other shooters like batum and matthews.