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Friday, August 14, 2009

LaMarcus Aldridge, Meet Charles Smith

Charles Smith was a 6'10 forward/center who was taken #3 in the 1988 Draft by Philly and then traded immediately to the Clippers. His sweet shooting stroke and ability to run the floor earned him a starting spot as a rookie and he made the most of it, averaging 16/6 with just over a block a game. His second and third seasons were even better, as he topped the 20-point plateau and established himself as a defensive presence. He injured his knee during his fourth season and played only 49 games. Then he was traded to the Knicks, who already had Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason at PF. He was a solid contributor on a tough Knicks team but was most famous for getting four of his weak-sauce layups blocked by the Bulls in the playoffs. He got traded/injured for five more seasons before retiring.

Smith never won a ring or made the All-Star team. He did, however, appear in this fucking awful Hootie & The Blowfish video (thanks, Low Posts). In his defense, Smith seems like a class act.

LaMarcus Aldridge, as you're well aware, is a 6'10 forward/center who was taken #2 in the 2006 Draft by Chicago and traded immediately to the Blazers. His sweet shooting stroke and ability to run the floor earned him 22 starts in his rookie year but he finished the campaign with modest averages of 9/5. He blossomed in his second and third seasons, pushing those numbers up to 18/7. Now many are wondering whether he'll take the leap to All-Star level.

This is also Aldridge's contract year. Teammate Brandon Roy just signed a max deal and the hot topic of the day is whether or not Aldridge deserves one, too.

Like Charles Smith before him, Aldridge also tends to shy away from contact, preferring the fadeaway J to a power move or dunk attempt. He's a finesse player. At power forward. And nobody's bringing it up right now, but I'm sure the fact that he's been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition is still in the minds of Blazer brass.

*It's kind of trivial, but Smith's bday is July 16th, Aldridge's is the 19th. According to this Astrology site, Cancer is 'loving and emotional' but also 'moody and oversensitive.' But I digress...

So, how will this whole thing shake out? Aldridge's people are saying publicly that they're not after the same max deal Brandon Roy just signed. And they shouldn't be. Roy's a team leader who can consistently get (and make) his own shot in the clutch. Roy's an All-Star. LA hasn't proven anything yet- he's a good player with the possibility of a bright future. Or not.

Pictured: Smith rocking the high-top fade


HolyBackboard said...

I think you're selling LaMarcus Aldridge too short here. During the 2nd half of the season, he really picked up his game and his physicality, esp the game @ San Antonio. I still think he has more room to progress and will average 20 and 8.5 this year.

KneeJerkNBA said...

Hey, Holy. Thanks for posting. Perhaps you're right. As a Blazer fan I HOPE you are.

Smith averaged almost those exact numbers prior to his injury. It's kind of my point- good player on the brink of stardom...but never quite gets there.

I think we've discussed this on your site, too. You're in agreement that max money is too much, yes?

HolyBackboard said...

Well, I think all athletes are overpaid and it is not my money, so if it absolutely took the MAX to get Aldridge, I would be fine with it. Is he worth the max right now? Hell no, but I still think he has a lot of room to get better. Based on market value, I believe he is worth 12-13 a year.

When I think of someone who is good and on the brink of stardom, Cliff Robinson comes to mind...LA gives me the impression that he isn't done yet.

KneeJerkNBA said...

Ah, Uncle Cliffy. Nice player. Made the All Star game once, All Defense twice. And a good comparison to LA in terms of shooting range and filling the lanes.

I'm with you on the 12-13 mil for LA, btw. Unfortunately, Colangelo fucked it up for the whole league by throwing so much dough at Bargnani.

Vittorio De Zen said...

Colangelo giving Bargs $50 mill doesn't mean LA could get the max... does it? You're right though, he's handing Bargs money based on what type of player he COULD become. If LA's agent is asking for the max, that's the only logic he could use.

We'll see what happens, but I'd think that $12-13 million you Blazers fans have predicted won't be far off.

KneeJerkNBA said...

Hi, Zen. Welcome back. You raise a good point about potential. I don't see either of these guys (Aldridge, Bargs) becoming perennial All-Stars, do you?