On the year, LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 23.2 points and 11.1 boards while shooting 45.8% from the floor. Against the Houston Rockets, in four games this year, Aldridge put up 26.8 points and pulled down 15.5 boards, shooting 44.7%. He averaged 36.2 minutes per game against the entire league but played 39.1 minutes per contest against Houston.
Glancing at Aldridge’s shot distribution, against the league, he really likes the midrange elbow area. Spanning from just beyond the free throw line over left towards the corner, Aldridge hoisted about 33% of his overall attempts. That far left spot is also his most lethal area – Aldridge hit on 48% of his attempts from that zone.
Against Houston, Aldridge is putting up just 27% of his shots from that free throw line to corner area, but more interestingly, in his favorite zone, the dead elbow area, his attempts are down from 12% of total attempts against the entire league to 4% against the Rockets. For whatever reason, Aldridge wasn’t shooting as much from one of his pet spots against the Rockets this year. When he did get a look from those areas, he was pretty lethal. 100% (4/4) from that same zone, and 46% from the zone just inside the 3 point line on the left.
In this series, Rockets fans will be grateful Daryl Morey didn’t look ahead and sell off Omer Asik for some draft picks because Aldridge is going to be seeing a ton of the Turkish center. While I expect Terrence Jones to start Game 1, there is no doubt in my mind that Kevin McHale will be quick with the hook to relieve Jones with Asik if Aldridge gets going early.
What makes Asik so effective against Aldridge? Let’s look at the tape:
Look at that shot. Aldridge starts out trying to beat Asik off the dribble with the shot fake but Asik is too nimble. He then turns his back, fakes, and has to fade again, forcing up a ridiculously difficult shot. Due to his size and length, Asik is able to contest.
It’s not clear how much of Asik we’ll see because of his offensive limitations. It might even be a better option to play James Harden at the ‘4’ down the stretch. But due to some of his defensive attributes, the minutes we do see Omer Asik this series will be pivotal given what he can bring to the table against LaMarcus Aldridge.