Lost in the wake of Carmelo Anthony’s 62 point performance was the play by center Cole Aldrich. Coach Woodson has overlooked this big body for quite some time. Earlier in the year during Tyson Chandler’s injury, he hardly, if ever, came off the bench. Last night with Amare Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Kenyon Martin all out with injuries, Aldrich was the first big off the bench. Well, in 15 minutes, he had 8 rebounds, of which four were offensive. Aldrich led both teams in offensive rebounds.
When you consider Al Jefferson who ran over the Knicks during their prior meeting only totaled 9 rebounds in 31 minutes, it’s obvious that Aldrich is a strong, young, live body. He has been an underutilized asset. Now, I am not saying he is now, or ever will be a star, but he is serviceable to get some rebounds and surrender some hard fouls against larger teams like Indiana and Roy Hibbert.
Basketball Reference estimates based on 36 minutes per game he would have average 11.9 rebounds per game, while with Oklahoma City in 2011-12 and 10.3 rebounds per game while with Sacramento in 2012-13. Although he is not a rookie, Woodson treats him as such. What I like is his energy and that he is a true center. He is a serviceable center, who if given 10 to 15 minutes a game he would be helpful.
As I continued to review Aldrich’s stats, I noticed his True shooting percentage of 56.9%, 10.4 rebounds per 36 minutes, and 2.4 blocked shots per 36 minutes is not bad. Compare them with Omar Asik while with Chicago in 2011,
|PlayerID ||FLName ||Year ||Tm ||PER ||TS_P ||eFG_P ||PTS ||ORB ||TRB ||AST ||STL ||BLK ||TOV |
|0.063 || Omer Asik ||2011 ||CHI ||11.8 ||.559 ||.553 || 8.3 || 4.1 ||11.1 ||1.2 ||0.7. ||2.0. ||2.3 |
Aldrich should have a future with the Knicks due to his excellent combination of size, length, basketball smarts and toughness. Aldrich, if given the opportunity, is capable of doing some damage in the post with simple, fundamentally sound post-moves. He does a nice job of making good outlet passes upon rebounding the ball, as well as passing out of double teams, moving to open spaces in the paint for drop-off passes, and finishing strong when the situation calls for it as he did last night. Historically, he is a good foul shooter, he shoots free throws at an excellent clip (81% in the D-League), crashes the offensive glass effectively, and keeps mistakes to a minimum. He showed this again last night with a strong put back dunk.
Defensively, Aldrich has a presence inside the paint with his 7-5 wingspan and excellent body. He actually compliments the Knicks and makes a good backup to rest Chandler. Aldrich’s game is not flashy and no one really expects him to develop into more than a lunch-pail type role-playing hustle guy. With that said, players in his mold aren’t easy to come by, which makes him a good investment for the Knicks.
Granted Aldrich has his limitations. All I am saying is that he can provide an adequate backup for the oft-banged up Tyson Chandler. Such a reserve might keep Tyson healthy for the games that count in May. I do not think for one second that Aldrich will turn into the next Omer Asik or even Marcin Gortat. However it reasons that Aldrich can substitute in for Tyson Chandler more often without a major change in team chemistry or philosophy. And if that’s true, then using Aldrich more during the season might make Chandler more productive during the season and the playoffs. Chandler is an energy guy, a gamer. He gives 100% , 100% of the time. Injuries occur when athletes are tired and try to over extend themselves. Aldrich is a good, fill in for Chandler.
Now couple this with the excellent play of Jeremy Tyler , who shot 4 of 8 with 5 rebounds, with 3 offensive, in 22 minutes and you have some solid youth in the front court. On one play off a pass from J.R. Smith, Tyler slammed the ball down. Although not Blake Griffin esque, it was pretty impressive. Tyler and Aldrich combined for 7 offensive rebounds which was more than the total of the entire Charlotte team which had 6. The Knicks have been a terrible offensive rebounding team, these two when paired together, added a toughness to this Knick team. Ultimately, I think Tyler will be the better player, but with the age, knees and ankles of this current Knick frontline, I like seeing these guys get the minutes they earned.
Dr. Eric Kaplan is a Bestselling Author www.5minutemotivator.com
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