Zach Lowe wrote a post about the Spurs and LaMarcus Aldridge and how they can work together. Even with the amount of stories we have already dedicated to the subject, I must say it's quite a read. The first thing to make clear is that the entire post is worth worth your time. Yes, all of it. It has GIFs and descriptions of plays that compare the Spurs offense with things Aldridge has shown he can do and will edify you and make your day great.
But for those who don't have time, or who are too lazy to read it all -- here are the things that jumped out at me as I read it.
A big man who can shoot is perhaps the easiest sort of player to integrate on offense, and Aldridge is damn near Nowitzkian from midrange. It's harder for that kind of player to hog the ball, simply because he needs someone to pass it to him first. By the time he gets it, the offense is already flowing
This is just music to my ears; not because I was worried, but because Lowe knows his stuff and him saying this helps my confidence in how we're expecting this to go. Sure, there will likely be early struggles. Absolutely, things won't just fall into place just because it's the Spurs, but the mere fact that Aldridge is a big man means that the work of incorporating him into the offense will begin once the play in question is already underway. Just thinking about Aldridge with even a small amount of the Spurs' motion going on around him -- well, it brings be joy.
Only 10 players recorded more touches at the elbows than Aldridge last season ... and the threat of his jumper means defenses have to pressure him when he has the ball there. That leaves open space for cutters, and you can envision Aldridge working handoffs, picking out Parker slithering along the baseline, and forming sublime high-low partnerships with Duncan, Boris Diaw, and David West. Kawhi Leonard is already a mean post-up player; he could be even meaner with Aldridge sucking one opposing big man far from the paint.
That's the joy I was talking about. Doesn't reading that make you happy inside? Assuming that everyone stays on the same page and buys in, the possibilities are almost limitless. I'm going to move on before I get carried away.
He'll still get to post up a ton, but the Spurs won't walk it up, dump him the ball, and wait five seconds as Aldridge backs down into a turnaround jumper.
For anyone expecting (or worried about) the Spurs to go back to the kind of play that associated with The B- Word, please re-read that last quote again. For anyone who worries that Aldridge need his touches and might get upset with low usage numbers, print that sentence out and post it on your bathroom mirror.
Any team hoping to gut through four playoff series needs to shape-shift, and the Spurs are consciously building one sort of team that can beat the crap out of any smallish group — like, say, the Warriors with Draymond Green at center...
This is what Jesus Gomez touched on in his smallball article last month. There are some seriously deadly things San Antonio can brew up for the defending champs, and anyone else who is trying to remake themselves in the image of the champs.
Of course, it's not all roses. There is definitely room for improvement.
Aldridge has never shown the ability to post up in an instant wherever the offense puts him. Over 90 percent of his post-ups came on the left side of the floor, making Aldridge the most lopsided post-up player in the league last season...
Skilled players adapt; Duncan gradually developed into a threat from both blocks, and Aldridge may have to expand his comfort zone. The Spurs might tinker so that even unscripted elements of their offense lean left for Aldridge.
This is something that's always been amazing about Pop and The System, the way that he not only works around the abilities and tendencies of his players, but how he also trains them through the process of improving in areas where they were previously uncomfortable. I'm telling you, if Aldridge is able to morph over the coming years into a shooter who can hit from the entire court, Pop's legend will grow even beyond where it already is.
The Spurs' side-to-side offense is beautiful, but it's also exhausting. They built a deep bench to account for both age and the toll that offense can take. With Aldridge onboard, they can ditch the mad scramble for a possession or two and just run a two-man action in the middle of the floor.
Easing the wear on Tim Duncan and the rest is one of the underrated benefits to adding Aldridge. We know that Pop twists the rotation into knots in order to keep the team fresh for the playoffs. Having a big like LaMarcus who's ready and able to take minutes and shots is nothing less than a luxury.
...much has been made about how the Spurs are running low on rim deterrence with Splitter and Aron Baynes gone. Probably too much, really... opponents shot better at the basket when Splitter was nearby last season than against Portland with Aldridge at the bucket, per SportVU data.
Last thought: while it's exciting to believe that Splitter isn't a better defender than Aldridge, it's important to remember that Tiago struggled with that calf issue all year long. That said, it's getting more and more difficult to wait for opening night and that first matchup with the Thunder.