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LaMarcus Aldridge makes Spurs, not Warriors, team to beat in NBA

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LaMarcus Aldridge makes Spurs, not Warriors, team to beat in NBA

The NBA semifinals are underway, and, so far have been nothing short of sensational. But, of all the great players, teams, and coaches still fighting this post-season one stands out as, clearly thus far, the best player in the NBA.

He is none other than LaMarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs.

The newest free agent signee of the San Antonio Spurs has been on a tear against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In the first game of the series he scored 38 points on 18/23 shooting only to follow it with a 41 points on 15/21 shooting performance. He is the first Spur to have back-to-back 35 + points performances in the playoffs since Tim Duncan in 2003.

At the beginning of the season, Aldridge struggled mightily to find his groove in the Spurs’ system with the nadir coming on January 25th, in the form of a 30-point beat down to the Golden State Warriors. In that nightmarish game, Aldridge scored five points on 2/9 shooting.

Due to the hellish start of his season some people thought his signee was a bit of overrated; however, in a true Spurs fashion he aged well.

From October until mid-January, Aldridge averaged 15.9 points per game on 48.7 per cent from the floor. While this may be a career year for most players, it was well below his anticipated production. And, on top of his lack-of-production – by his standards – the Spurs were about to be dealt a new blow. Tim Duncan would miss some time with right knee soreness. But, Duncan’s soreness turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the new Spur as he found himself.

Between January 23rd and February 18th, Aldridge’s scoring average increased from 15.9 to 20.8 points per game on 54.7 shooting from the floor. And, from February 18th to March 17th, he average 20.2 points per game on 52.6 per cent from the floor.

LaMarcus-Aldridge-Spurs-NBA-Playoffs-Jumper

Since then LaMarcus Aldridge has been firing on all cylinders for the Spurs, and helped them to the greatest regular season in team history. In any year, the 67-15 Spurs would have been, against their will, the talk of the media, but the 73-9 Golden State Warriors and the drama surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers overshadowed them.

Now, as they prepare for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against their newly archrival Thunder, the most dominant franchise of the past decade has gotten even better.

The former “Big Three”, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, is still intact but a new “Big Three” is emerging with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge as the catalysts, and either Patty Mills or Danny Green as the third member.

One of the big reasons behind Aldridge’s early season struggles is because he plays a very similar style of basketball to Tim Duncan; therefore they were stepping on each other’s toes on offense, and in a way neutralized each other.

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Since coming back from injury, Duncan has gladly accepted his role as a mentor, and passenger on the Spurs bus driven by number two and 12. He has become a secondary scorer on the team, to his and the team’s benefit, and moves to help free-up Aldridge as oppose to score.

Although Aldridge can muscle his way in the restricted area against anybody in the league, his strength lies in his mid-range jump shot. Coincidentally this is Duncan’s strength although Aldridge has much more range than Duncan.

LaMarcus-Aldridge-Spurs-NBA-Playoffs-Jumper-OKC-Thunder

In the first two games of the series against the Thunder, Aldridge has ran a number on Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams with his devastating jumper. The Spurs use pick and roll and screens to free him from his defender.

What makes the Spurs’ signing of LaMarcus Aldridge so deadly is that both the Spurs and Aldridge have become famous over the years for pick and rolls, screens, double-screens, and mid-range jump shots.

LaMarcus Aldridge was destined to be a Spur, and his signature could not have come at a better time.

Thus far in the series, Aldridge has connected on all 11 free throws he attempted, including the three free throws with 13.5 seconds left in the game and his Spurs down by four. The former Trail Blazers scored .783 per cent in game 1 and .714 in game 2.

Billy Donovan, the rookie head coach of the Thunder, has, so far, refused to double-team the Texas alumni or try defending him with Kevin Durant. The main reason that has Billy Donovan reluctant to switch Ibaka and Adams with Durant is Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard is the best player in San Antonio. The Spurs will go as far as he takes them. For all of LaMarcus Aldridge’s greatness, he takes a back seat to Kawhi Leonard.

This season, and most likely for the near future, the Golden State Warriors will hold headlines, breaking news, and magazine covers, but the San Antonio Spurs will respond, in a homegrown fashion, with their play on the court as oppose to the cameras.

Who knows what the future will hold for the franchise based in the Alamo City, but if the present is any sign of things to come Spurs fans are in for a treat, and another 15 years of championship aspirations, and greatness.

Despite the headline-grabbing Warriors (rightfully so!), I believe that the San Antonio Spurs will win the Larry O’Brien Trophy, and be crowned World Champions in 2016, and LaMarcus Aldridge will be Finals MVP (if he keeps playing at this level).

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MVP Brandon Clarke dominates, leads Grizzlies to 2019 NBA Summer League Title

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2019 Las Vegas Summer League Memphis Grizzlies V Minnesota Timberwolves

Canadian Brandon Clarke, the 21st pick of the 2019 Draft dominated the NBA’s annual summer showcase — becoming the first player to take home both tournament and championship game most valuable player honors with a dominant 15 points, 16 rebounds double-double. The No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies the Minnesota Timberwolves 95-92 to win the 2019 NBA Summer League championship.

The former Gonzaga standout added 4 assists, 3 blocks and a steal in 25 minutes.

Canadian Basketball Player Brandon Clarke 2019 Nba Summer League MVP
Canadian Basketball Player Brandon Clarke 2019 NBA Summer League MVP

In six games of summer league action, Clark averaged 14.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. The Vancouver native shot 55% from the field and becomes the first ever Canadian to win MVP at the NBA Summer League.

Clarke was also named to the first-team all-NBA Summer League team. Other standouts included fellow Canadians Nickeil Alexander-Walker who joined Clarke on the first-team. Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher was named to the second-team.

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New Knick RJ Barrett Treated Las Vegas Summer League Like A New York Playground

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New Knick RJ Barrett Treated Las Vegas Summer League Like A New York Playground
R.J. State Of Mind...

Magnitudes off the Richter. An earthquake hit Sin City like jackpot in the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada out in the desert last week.

And as the Jumbo-tron still shook like the music it was pumping, many people in awe inspired attendance would have been forgiven for thinking it was Zion. As the Duke standout and the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft Williamson made us feel more tremors than Kevin Bacon. As the new New Orleans Pelican burst out the hardwood and flew, man-handling a steal off an opponent who’s just a poster now’s inbounds pass and put back a viscous, signature slam that felt like they still tested atomic bombs out in the Nevada desert overlooking the electric, neon skyline. All whilst new and former teammates respectively, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Anthony Davis looked on with “here comes the big airplane” mouths.

But after the road to Mount Zion’s knee injury lead to more Patrick Ewing ice than up there in Japan’s Mount Fuji, it was better the Blue Devil you know. As the Knicks third pick RJ Barrett ended up moving the needle more over this scorching, seasonal tourney of the youthful future of this association. Looking as good as those beautiful blue Knicks Summer League jerseys that are so clean we want to see them fresh off the press in the the NBA Store in NYC. So much so that even if RJ handed you one of his autographed signatures post game you’d still be like, “you got this in a medium?”

Sounding better than all those thirsty announcers singing “Summer Leeeeague” like The Isley Brothers this time of year classic, ‘Summer Breeze’. Making everything feel fine as he blew through defenders like the Jasmine in my mind. RJ initialed his dynamic debut and mainstream moment. Making Knicks’ fans almost forget that they just lost out on their number one goal, Zion Williamson. Or their free agent duo desire of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who ended up on the other side of New York, across that bridge from Manhattan in Brooklyn with the Nets…almost. Following the sweated out, hard nosed 90’s were only Jordan and Starks shots got in the way of golden era glory, the Knicks’ now have their first real leader in the post Porzingis era since Syracuse star ‘Melo for the Orangemen.

And he’s not alone. Barrett who was choosing Knicks’ mannequin heads to bucket on New York’s Late Night show with Jimmy Fallon nights before the draft cap has plenty to pass to in a Pelican rivaling young core of young guns, Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier, new free agent signing Julius Randle (this Pel is still a big ‘cat out of Kentucky like Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins reunited on the Lake Show like purple and gold fans hoped he would be too), Elfrid Payton and of course the soaring Dennis Smith Jr. Not to mention a bolstered bench of Taj Gibson and Reggie Bullock from more than midtown. Call it Chelsea, the Tribeca or even Battery Park after the High-Line of the Meatpacking District. The future of this franchise to the naked eye of ignorance is about to look better than the view from that new Vessel structure in Hudson Yards.

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Barrett began in Vegas with some early snake eyes trouble. But rolling the dice again he turned into a killer like Brandon Flowers. The man. Come round. Nothing can break. Nothing can break him down. First he scorched California’s new look King sized Lakers for 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. But it was his spell in his last Summer forecast against the Wizards were RJ showed Washington that just like NYC, DC may be America’s capital, but there’s nothing like New York, New York. He was so good you had to check the instant replay twice, with another 21 and 10, two perfect precision passes off cashing in a triple-double chip like he was a team that had both James Harden and Russell Westbrook on their roster roll call. Houston, do you read me?

Averages of 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists in a televised tournament that is basically a glorified practice scrimmage (tell me, do you even know who won the thing?) show he will be above so. The Canadian Maple Mamba has that syrup for your bacon. Even without free agent big names like Kevin and Kyrie who are one more decision away from being journeymen, forget super-teams, the Knicks may have a lifer in RJ from Coach K’s Duke fraternity administration in the association now. Can you relate? Barrett could be brilliant and New York no longer a rotten apple. But a couple of big names away from having their title again in the Mecca of Madison Square Garden’s, World’s Most Famous Arena in bright Times Square lights.

It’s almost a New Year for New York, time for the ball to drop.

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