Aldridge looks to have added some muscle, but not much. And really, how much bigger can a guy like LaMarcus get?Good stuff, though after watching LA play full-court yesterday for the second time this offseason, I realized I was wrong. Surprised? Yeah, me too.
LaMarcus is undoubtedly thicker, especially in the chest and shoulders, than he was last season. He's not going to be mistaken for Dwight Howard any time soon, but the added mass is noticeable, at least if you pay attention, which I obviously hadn't when I made the statement above. That's what happens when you draw conclusions based on a single viewing.
One thing that I did get right in my recap is that LaMarcus, when on the court at the PF, is the best player on the floor. He proved it again yesterday during a workout I would classify as the best I've seen so far this offseason. Games were close at the end, so guys were really focusing on playing tough defense. One-on-one play was kept to a minimum. Fouls were called and subsequently argued. Rebounds were fought over. I think guys are starting to feel the season is getting closer, and that realization is being reflected in the play on the court.
And LaMarcus owned it. With Steven Hill out of town, Aldridge was the only big available to go up against Greg Oden. No offense to GO, but LA took him to school, at least out on the perimeter.
Aldridge, knowing he'd have a tough time going blow-for-blow and toe-to-toe with Oden in the block, took the rook out to the three-point line and started displaying some skills that I had never seen before, namely the cross-over dribble. You ever see Aldridge dance at the three-point line before shaking his man? Me neither, but I saw it yesterday.
Aldridge, with the clear advantage in foot speed, beat Oden in a variety of ways by showing off a handle that I didn't even know he possessed. He'd go between the legs over and over, just getting in that cross-over rhythm, before eventually throwing a jab step to get Oden off-balance. Once that was accomplished, Aldridge would either pull up for the long-range jumper (which he hit over and over again) or drive baseline. Think And1 mix-tape, but without the extreme ankle-breaking, and with 6-11 versus 7-0. It's not like Oden was getting embarrassed, but you could tell Aldridge was just feeling it.
The highlight of the run was Aldridge crossing over Oden near the baseline, driving to the hoop, avoiding Travis Outlaw's block attempt, then finishing with the reverse layup. So pretty.
I don't know if Aldridge is comfortable enough in his handle to break out these kind of moves during the regular season, but if he gets to that point, the rest of the league is going to be in a whole lot of trouble. I don't think Aldridge is going to be rising up off the dribble and canning fadeaway three's like Dirk Nowitzki any time in the near future, but he showed glimpses of that ability yesterday.