Is it possible that the Aldridge pendulum has swung too far and narrative or perception is now skewing reality? I understand that he hasn’t been everything hoped for in SA, but it’s not like he’s fallen off a cliff. Just because the Spurs are trying to move him doesn’t make it a given they think he stinks. If we could get into Pop’s brain, which I can only picture as 90% delightful and 10% horrifying to levels that upon exit would haunt us forever, he would say this is almost entirely related to fit rather than talent. It’s semi-baffling to read that the Spurs would have to “convince” another team that the 2nd best player on 61 win team has value. I suppose you could say that his value isn’t commensurate with his salary against the cap, but to imply he is a has been or relegated to “keep gettin dem checks” status is superbly hyperbolic. The crazy part is that you don’t even have to go back too far to see his value.
In the closeout game vs Memphis on the road he had 17 and 12. He also held Z-Bo to 13 and 11 on 6–14 shooting and kept him to 3 FTA in 38 minutes. LMA wasn’t spectacular in the series by any stretch, but he still put up 15 and 7 on 45% shooting while having to defend 1980’s basketball (Randolph) and 2010’s basketball (JaMychal Green).
Against Houston he was much better averaging 19 and 9 on 49%. In fact, if you throw out the team wide debacle of the first game of the series he was up to 22 and 9 on 50.5% shooting. After giving up home court with the game 1 loss the Spurs desperately needed to win game 3 in Houston. LMA had 26 and 6 with 4 blocks. He also scored 7 straight points and then assisted on a Kawhi 3 during the 4th quarter run that put the Rockets away and gave the Spurs back their home court.
The offense only tells half the story in the Houston series. After the first game of that series (if memory serves) LMA was guarding, almost exclusively, Trevor Ariza. Obviously Ariza is not a guy who is going to exploit mismatches and attack off the dribble, but he is a guy that LMA has to play almost entirely out of the paint. A guy where he is thinking close out or run off as opposed to post defense. Ariza had a pretty good series, but he scored 45 of his 89 points in games 1 (Houston win by 173 points) and game 5 (Spurs win by 249 points).
We obviously know how the Warriors series ended, but did you know in Game 1 Lamarcus had 28 and 7? After Zaza’s foot happened the Spurs had to play, perhaps the best team in the history of the sport, without their best player and point guard. Predictably the team and Aldridge struggled.
Sadly it appears that the struggle of those last 3 games make it seem like the previous two series didn’t occur. Sadly, those 3 games against the best team on the planet, without his best teammate and without his point guard, where LMA was admittedly terrible equates to him being a valueless NBA player who the Spurs are going to have to con to get someone to take off their hands.