Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge?

Earlier this year, I watched as the Orlando Magic ended up losing in overtime to the Minnesota Timberwolves. When losing is an inevitability with your favorite team (man, was it bad during those Rony Seikaly years… And those Darrell Armstrong years… And the crippled Penny Hardaway years… And-I can’t believe I’m saying this- the current Glen Davis years), you have to learn to appreciate other things.
Kevin Love has gotten his chance
to play on the Olympic team. Don't tell
me Aldridge's game doesn't transfer, too.

On this night I appreciated the greatness of Kevin Love. Love ended up dropping 31 points and grabbing 17 rebounds like it was nothing, like he does every night. During the game, he threw ridiculous outlets, he facilitated the offense, and he cut every Orlando Magic fan’s throat when he hit a game tying shot to send the game into OT. Basically, he did it all, and he once again made me a believer.

For the past few years, it’s been considered a fact that Kevin Love is the best power forward in basketball. A lot of this has to do with weak competition. Blake Griffin just isn’t skilled enough and not long enough to be considered better. Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are too old and too prone to injury and too…well, just too damn old. This year, though, a new competitor for the title of best power forward on the planet has emerged: LeMarcus Aldridge: aka Rasheed Wallace Jr.

This year, LeMarcus Aldridge is making a serious run at the power forward title. Sure, he doesn’t average as many points as Love (23.5 vs. 26.5), and he doesn’t swallow up as many rebounds (10.6 vs. 13.7). But, he IS the leader of the team that has the third best record in basketball (a team, by the way, that is fun as hell to watch, too). He DOES make his teammates better.

In so many ways, he reminds me of Rasheed Wallace. He has the same shot, the same body type, and he even puts up the same numbers. For his entire career, Rasheed was overlooked. He brought the Blazers thiiiiiiiiis close to the NBA finals when his Blazers lost to an incredible Kobe/Shaq (Shaq/Kobe…whatever) Lakers. He led the Detroit Pistons to Eastern Conference Finals appearances, Championship appearances, and even an NBA title. He was the superstar that didn’t have to prove he was a superstar by putting up inflated numbers. The only thing he gave a shit about was helping his teammates play better (Chauncey, Rip, Tayshaun, and Big Ben had the best years of their career with Rasheed around…not a coincidence) and WINNING. 
How the hell does he play for the Blazers and his
shot looks exactly like Sheed's?

With Aldridge, it’s the same thing. While Lillard is winning Rookie of the Year, Aldridge is getting forgotten. When Wesley Matthews and Nic Batum are becoming household names, Aldridge is cool with letting them enjoy the praise. When Robin Lopez (!!!!) is actually having a respectable year, Aldridge doesn’t try to take the credit. Everyone in that locker room knows who the man is, who one of the best players in the league is. Even if no one outside of it knows.

This summer, when the playoffs roll around and Kevin Love is at home (ZERO playoff appearances in his career) and Aldridge is still hooping, you should take the time to ask yourself the “Who’s the best power forward in the league right now” question one more time.

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