Five points, three rebounds, and a 30-point loss.
LaMarcus Aldridge received a lot of criticism for that weak performance against the defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors on Jan. 25.
Playing for a new team that has been an annual title contender for the last 20 years required an adjustment from Aldridge. And his game has evolved greatly since moving from Portland to San Antonio this past offseason.
One of Aldridge’s most impactful performances this season occurred on Saturday night against those same first-place Warriors in front of a national television audience.
He posted a team-high 26 points, recorded 13 rebounds and served as one of the vital players in securing the Spurs’ 36th-consecutive home victory, a streak dating back to 2015.
Ever since the first Warriors game, Aldridge’s game has reached new heights. He has averaged 21.8 points per game, recorded eight double-doubles and logged 10 games of at least 25 points in that timespan. He has assumed the role of a primary offensive option with the Spurs.
Aldridge’s minutes have risen from 29.4 per game before the Warriors loss to 32.2 minutes per game since. He is shooting at the second-most efficient mark in his career at 50.7 percent and is shooting 57.6 percent in the month of March. His versatility in shot selection, ability to space the floor and signature mid-range jumper have become valuable assets for the Spurs.
The reliance on Aldridge continues to intensify come playoff time as the rotations tighten.
“Nobody rushed him,” Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina told the Associated Press. “Every day he feels more comfortable, and guys know where to find him, where are his sweet spots. He’s also giving us a defensive presence that most of the time goes underrated.”
The addition of Aldridge to San Antonio is proving to be suitable for both parties. After adjustments and overcoming growing pains, Aldridge is finally enjoying more minutes and production in a winning atmosphere. The Spurs, a franchise with five championships under their name, are currently 59–10 and on pace to their best regular season finish in history.
“He draws so much attention,” Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili told the Associated Press. “And everybody is so concerned about him that it opens up space for everybody else. He’s been an amazing addition.”