Aldridge: ‘I feel like I’m the best power forward’ in NBA
MANILA, Philippines - Portland Trail Blazers All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge has been having an exceptional NBA campaign so far in 2014-15. Outside of averaging a career-high 23.5 points per game in addition to 10.4 rebounds and 1 block, the nine-year veteran has also helped lead his team to a 44-24 record, currently good for fourth best in the competitive Western Conference.
Aldridge is also in the conversation for who’s the best power forward in the NBA, with worthy competition like Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Paul Millsap, Chris Bosh, and others included in the discussion.
But Aldridge believes that he is the best power forward in the game today.
During a conversation with members of international media on Tuesday, March 24 (PH time), the Trail Blazers star said, “Im a very competitive guy, and I feel like I work hard every summer to come back better every year, so of course I feel like I’m the best power forward.”
“I think every guy should feel like that,” he further explained. “I feel like my team has had great success and I’ve gotten better every year and I’ve been pretty dominant this year so I feel like I’m the best power forward.”
Aldridge has been superb this season despite dealing with a thumb injury that requires surgery. Unfortunately, his health problems now includes a hand injury has him likely to miss his team’s game on Wednesday, March 25 (PH time), against the league-leading Golden State Warriors and possibly more after.
The Trail Blazers, who recently lost starting two-guard Wesley Matthews to a season-ending achilles injury, are just 5-5 in their last 10 games. Matthews’ 15.9 points and 3.7 rebounds a game has been hard to replace, as recently-acquired Blazer Arron Afflalo, who was brought in at the trade deadline to back-up Matthews, is still getting acclimated to the squad.
The loss of Matthews, who’s known for being a pesky defender, goes beyond what’s seen on the stats sheet, as his leader thoroughly explained.
“It was definitely tough to have him injured, because he’s a big part of our team, and he’s the soul of our defense. We lost a lot, not having him in the game. We miss having him on the floor since he’s so vital to our team,” said Aldridge, who’s been teammates with Matthews since 2010.
Afflalo, who was seeing action with the Denver Nuggets before getting traded to Portland, is still adapting to his new teammates while helping them keep their tenacity on defense, which has been giving up 97.9 points per game to opponents in March - 10th best in the league.
“We need him to score and be a threat on the floor at all times. He scores in a number of different ways that should make us hard to guard in the playoffs and for the rest of the regular season,” Aldridge said about Afflalo.
“His confidence and his offense are going to be key for us going down the stretch because we need him feeling good about the way he’s playing with us and have him in a really good rhythm so teams can’t key in on myself or Damian [Lillard].”
Despite the number of injuries to the team - even Nicolas Batum is nursing a bad lower back - Aldridge still believes Portland has what it takes to come out of the battle royal that is the Western Conference and contend for an NBA title.
“Every team in the West can come out of the West and win it, I wouldn’t say one team is harder than another team or one team is easier than another team,” he said.
“The West in general is just really tough. Memphis has the bigs down low, and they have [Mike] Conley and they have Jeff Green now. The Clippers have JJ [Reddick], Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul. Every team has a threat or some threats; it’s just about what team you get and how well guys are playing.”
“I do think we have a chance,” Aldridge argued, “but we do have to be a lot better defensively, and the key is to make our offense better too. I don’t think there’s a team that can beat us outright, but we want to play defensively and that can be our way to go forward.”