LaMarcus Aldridge announced his retirement two days ago, quite unexpectedly. He felt it was time to hang it up due to irregular heartbeat which may be due to long-lasting heart issues. Of course, a player's health comes before winning an NBA championship.
Looking back at the career of LaMarcus Aldridge, it is clear to see that he was a successful star in the NBA. His journey took him through many challenges as a player, and this is an article to praise his accomplishments.
Blossomed From A Raw Center To A Franchise Cornerstone With Portland
LaMarcus Aldridge was drafted in the 2007 Draft, as a 21-year old slender rookie. He had good size at 6'11" and mainly occupied the center position for the Trail Blazers. Playing 22.1 MPG and starting 22 games out of a total of 63 played, he averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.0 RPG while shooting 50.3% from the field. While not a legendary rookie season, it was enough to earn him a spot on the All-Rookie Team.
The following season, Aldridge developed into a franchise cornerstone. He averaged 17.8 PPG and 7.6 RPG while playing 34.9 MPG. Aldridge showed his offensive skill set which included a post-game and a soft touch from mid-range. Aldridge would just get better, and his presence would be felt the following season as he upped his scoring to 18.1 PPG. By the time 2011 hit, Aldridge averaged over 21 PPG for 5 straight seasons.
2 Dominant All-Star Seasons With The Trail Blazers
In the final two years of his time in Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge was an All-NBA Team performer and arguably the best power forward in the NBA. After his rookie season, he was switched to a full-time power forward because of his scoring ability which gave him an advantage over shorter players. Aldridge was unstoppable from mid-range and the team played through him every night.
In the 2014 season, Aldridge averaged 23.2 PPG and 11.1 RPG while making his 3rd straight All-Star Team and the All-NBA Third Team. The following season, he averaged 23.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG while also shooting a consistent three-point jump shot. He nailed 35.2% of his threes and deserved his spot on the All-NBA Second Team.
Aldridge was a dominant scorer in Portland but his final two years with the team, alongside 24-year old Damian Lillard and 23-year old CJ McCollum, were his best years. If Aldridge stayed with the team long term, Portland would have probably been a dominant team in the West. But it was simply not to be.
A Decision To Join Popovich And The Spurs
During the 2016 free agency period, Aldridge was an extremely sought-after star. Teams like the Lakers were completely invested in signing Aldridge, and there were even rumors that he would be staying in Portland thanks to budding star Damian Lillard. After all, Aldridge was playing like a top-2 power forward alongside Anthony Davis.
But Aldridge made a massive decision to join Greg Popovich, Kawhi Leonard, and the San Antonio Spurs. Aldridge wanted an NBA title, and at 30 years old, he knew it was time to join a contender after 9 years with Portland. Of course, Lillard would become a star, but Aldridge wanted a surefire thing.
The Spurs were fresh off an NBA championship just one year prior in the 2014 season and had a superstar in Kawhi Leonard in place. With the era of Tim Duncan at a close, Aldridge was the new guy. He would go on to make the All-Star Team in his first season with San Antonio, and later make the All-Star Teams in 2018 and 2019. Aldridge and Leonard were a dominant duo, but it didn't pan out as many expected.
The Golden State Warriors started their dominance and the slow Spurs could not keep up. Most importantly, Kawhi Leonard forced a trade from San Antonio after the 2018 season, which ended any chance of Aldridge winning a chip with the Spurs. Even after San Antonio acquired DeMar DeRozan in the Kawhi Leonard trade, Aldridge didn't have a good enough squad to compete in the West.
A Formed Superteam And Early Retirement
With Aldridge getting bought out by the Spurs this season, he was a veteran on his last legs. Aldridge had 7 All-Star Teams in his bag, but the last time he made it was in 2019. He was 35-years old and was averaging 13.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG for the Spurs at the time. But Aldridge was too old and slow and needed a backup role off the bench.
Of course, the Superteam Nets were the most attractive team for a veteran on his last legs. Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving needed bigs and Aldridge provided size and scoring. Starting all 5 games for the Nets and averaging 12.8 PPG, Aldridge made Brooklyn unstoppable. But an imminent retirement that shocked the NBA world, Aldridge put to rest the chance to win an NBA title and will retire as a 7-time All-Star and 5-time All-NBA Team star.