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Force LaMarcus Aldridge inside?

Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge has both a lower field goal percentage and true shooting percentage this season (despite having averaged more points per game) than he did last year.  But his shot charts tell a different story.

LaMarcus Aldridge shot chart '14

LaMarcus Aldridge '13

The top image depicts Aldridge’s accuracy thus far this season; the bottom is his shot chart from last year.

This year, Aldridge has improved his shooting at almost every space just a step inside the perimeter.  Most notably from uptop and that left pocket, he’s shooting 51% and 58%, respectively.  Paradoxically, his accuracy has gone way down near the free throw line distance from what it was last season.

What does all of this mean?  The Rockets might fare better this year if they just let Aldridge post up from either block rather than letting him spot up.  More than that, one wonders if this is sustainable.  The knock on Aldridge from the stats community in the past was that he took more of “the worst shot in basketball” than any player in the league and shot at a clip lower than league average.  (Note the low ’40’s marks from last season.)  This year, those same shots are falling, making it, obviously, no longer an inefficient shot.  And with as well as he’s fared from so far out, one also wonders why he hasn’t experimented with taking another step or two out and increasing that expected value.  So it goes, I guess.

Before the season started, Aldridge was the top choice for most as return in an Asik trade.  That’s a moot point now as the former isn’t going anywhere.  But at the time, I was against acquiring Aldridge (or thought Morey would be) because of that inefficiency.  At this point, Aldridge’s shot charts throw that argument out the window.  Of course, they’ve also thrown out his availability.

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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