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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Total comments: 3
  • 2016Champions says 7 months ago The only thing that worries me are the corner 3's, we seem to have improved at defending them but can we be consistent? This game will be a true test for both teams.
  • Sir Thursday says 7 months ago

    From what I've seen of Portland's play (which admittedly is not a whole lot), when Aldridge is shooting long twos it tends to be in pick-and-pop situations where he tends to get a chance to set his feet, whereas when he is shooting slightly closer he'll be in the post. It's all very well to say that we should try to get him to post up, but it's difficult to force him to do so in preference to taking long twos.

    Now, what the Rockets could do is try changing up their coverages a bit. Usually they try to play ice on side pick-and-rolls, but the problem with that strategy is that if the screener is a confident popper (and Aldridge is the current king of that) then he gets a free open shot as both of the two defenders are focused on the guard. Instead, perhaps they should try hedging. This will keep the big man closer to Aldridge to prevent him getting free for a long two (though it leaves them vulnerable to a dive to the hoop - have to trust the rotation, I guess), and hopefully should prevent the ball handler from getting to the middle too easily.

    ST

  • 2016Champions says 7 months ago Teams typically leave players open on long twos because the league average from 16-23ft is 38%--equivalent to 25% on 3pt shots. Last season Aldridge made only 41% of his long twos, and it definitely seems like he has improved his efficiency in that area this season enough that it's a problem for opposing teams. Being efficient in that area causes teams to change their defensive strategy, and I will be interesting to see how Kelvin Sampson changes his tonight. Personally I think Terrence Jones is really good at contesting jump shots so I'm not too worried, Portland are getting a true test tonight and they are going down.