Aldridge Brought into be Part of System, not to be Duncan
Two years ago, LaMarcus Aldridge was one of the hottest commodities on the free agent market.
A big man who can face up, play with his back to the basket, and shoot from mid-range. Sounds like a very similar style of game, reminiscent to one of the best power forwards to ever play the game – one who was at the time very quickly approaching retirement.
After spending his entire career in Portland, it was now up to Aldridge to decide where to head to next. His suitors boiled down to the Trailblazers and the San Antonio Spurs, eager to find a player to take over Tim Duncan’s spot in the starting lineup after the legendary power forward retires and rides off into the sunset.
If he was to remain in Portland, he would continue being the face of the organization, a team with no clearcut path to contending despite a budding star in Damian Lillard. The clearer path was to head to San Antonio, a franchise built on winning, as well as a franchise in a smaller market where Aldridge could play closer to home without the big market attention that he would get if he was to pick Los Angeles, New York, or even Dallas.
Signing a four-year deal worth $80-million, Aldridge was headed to San Antonio with the media exclaiming how the Spurs have just found the heir to Duncan. A multiple-time All-Star who just so happened to be playing the same position Duncan has.
This premature intuition couldn’t be any further from the truth.
The heir to Duncan’s throne was never Aldridge to begin with. Sure, he played the same position as Duncan, which could mislead many, but what Aldridge was brought into do was to be a part of a system that has worked in San Antonio for the past two decades.
Kawhi Leonard was that guy in San Antonio. It became clear when he led the Spurs to an NBA championship over the Miami Heat. This is now Kawhi’s team and Aldridge is just part of the season that surrounds the superstar face of the franchise.
In his introductory press conference, Aldridge said himself that he hopes to “[fit]in well,” where “my life is going to be easier.” That being in San Antonio. He got permission from Bruce Bowen to wear the Spurs legend’s number and ultimately just wanted to fit in and help bring more victories to the franchise.
There’s nothing wrong with that, being a part of the puzzle. In fact, it is the right attitude. Not everyone can be Tim Duncan or Kawhi Leonard after all, but what employer wouldn’t love to have a guy the calibre of Aldridge want to contribute to a winning organization?
“I’m not looking to try to be David Robinson, to be Tim Duncan. Those guys are rare; they only come around once every 20 years or so.”
Nor should he be. It’s fair to want the guy to give you around 15-20 points a night, but giving Aldridge heat for every Spurs loss is simply irrational. Leonard is injured means the entire team must step up and if the team loses, it is not solely on Aldridge. It’s on the team. That is how Spurs teams have worked for years. Win a ton as a team, and when they lose, it is as a team as well.
Not all max contracts are signed by max players. Aldridge is not a max player. He is a great player, but a player brought into be a part of a system that has been proven to work. He isn’t the guy who will dominate Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph in a series against Memphis, or the guy who can consistently light up the more athletic and younger Clint Capela against Houston. He is definitely not the guy who will beat down on a quite possibly the best defender in the league, Draymond Green.
Expecting Aldridge to be same guy he was in Portland, well, you will find yourself very disappointed.
This is the Spurs LaMarcus Aldridge. He is here to help the Spurs win, not be the main reason why they win.