LaMarcus Aldridge could be the best big in the draft.
Considered the top big man prospect in the country entering the draft, LaMarcus Aldridge was scooped up with the second overall pick by the Bulls (a pick previously owned by the Knicks) and then immediately flipped in a deal to Portland.
Got that straight? Super.
The 6′11″, 240-pound Aldridge enjoyed an excellent sophomore season at Texas with 15 points, over nine rebounds, 1.4 steals and two blocks per game. While his percentages dropped a bit from his freshman year, he showed enough potential as a skilled big man to justify his lofty draft position.
Aldridge will ultimately take the Portland power forward/centre role currently occupied by Zach Randolph. Expecting an immediate return, however, might be a bit optimistic. Most reports suggest that the First Team All-Big 12 selection has a ways to go before he’ll be strong enough to maximize his talents at either end of the floor.
Word out of the Summer League suggests that he’s going to have difficulty with his perimeter defense, but no one doubts his raw talent and potential.
Aldridge, who will turn 21 on Wednesday, is athletic for a big man. He combines length and skill — a tremendous pairing in the NBA. That combination translated into a whack of double-doubles for the Longhorns this season.
He’s been compared to some of the top skilled big men in the association, including Channing Frye, Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal, but Aldridge will need to grow into his frame before he can deliver on that kind of promise.
The knock on him coming out of high school was that he was soft and his heart was questioned, and to some extent, this remains an issue. If this is truly the case, playing in Portland won’t exactly help matters, considering the nightmarish situation that’s festered there in recent seasons.
Still, a big skilled man with potential to grow into his body is the dream of every NBA GM, so we’ll reserve judgment on Aldridge for now, especially considering the scouting report and knock on Bosh coming out college did not differ greatly.