ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com NBA & Trail Blazers Insider
Dependingon who you talk to, there's only a select few of players in theNational Basketball Association who are capable of being the guyon a championship caliber team.
Rightnow, the Portland Trail Blazers aren't one of those teams and manyhave said that in order for them to be one, they need to acquire asuperstar via free agency or trade to be that number one guy.
All-Starpower forward LaMarcus Aldridge disagrees with that line of thinkingand says there's no need to bring in a number one guy, he's alreadyin Portland.
Ithink every team in this league feels that I'm a number one and that's whythey double-team me and they scheme me the way they do it,Aldridge told CSNNW.com. If I wasn't a number one, teams wouldn'tdouble-team me and teams wouldn't try to take me out.
SoI don't think there's no need to bring in a number one. Thisorganization can do whatever they want to do, but I think it'sdefinitely good to keep putting really solid pieces around myself,Dame Lillard, Meyers Leonard, and J.J. Hickson. But I don'tthink it's no need to bring in a number one, but if they do, I'llplay my role.
Surprisingly,Aldridge has embraced his role as the leader of this young TrailBlazers squad. When the Trail Blazers made it known they were in themidst of a retooling period, people wondered if that would sit wellwith Aldridge, who is 27 years old.
Notonly does it sit well with Aldridge, he's viewing this opportunity asa fresh start considering how far he's come.
Backin the day, he says he was an afterthought on the offensive endbehind Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, and Andre Miller and it frustrated himto the point to where he was almost traded. Now, he's grateful toshow the world that he's worthy of this franchise role.
Peopledon't realize that I went from the fourth option, to almost traded, tonow the main guy, Aldridge said. So I definitely don't take myposition lightly. I'm happy to be in this position and trying to justget better with everybody else.
Aldridgereceived a lot of attention and praise for organizing early workoutswith his teammates at the team's practice facility well beforetraining camp was set to begin. The extra time together gave them aheads up on team chemistry going into camp.
Whenasked why he chose to get the guys in early, he said he didn't doanything that he hasn't always done.
I'vedone it every year, Aldridge said. Coach Nate McMillan evengave me that power to call guys and be like, 'Y'all come back thisday.' So I've done that since I was younger. Since I'm more in themain spotlight, it means more now.
Dutiesthat come along with being the guy in the spotlight are leadershipqualities. Aldridge will be responsible for teaching, mentoring, andleading by example.
He'sthe third oldest player on the roster behind Jared Jeffries andRonnie Price and the young players will be watching his every moveclosely on and off the court.
Rewindback to that miserable 2011-12 Trail Blazers season where it lookedat times as if there was no leadership in the locker room despitehaving a veteran presence in Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, and GeraldWallace. The knock on that team was that nobody spoke up and tried toprevent the season from going haywire.
Aldridgesays that won't be an issue with this young team and he also wantedto clear up that misconception that he said nothing.
Italked last year too, he explained. It's just when you haveolder vets, they don't listen as well as young guys. I think peoplereally don't know that I was leading that team last year, too. I wastalking to guys, I was getting on guys, but when you have older guys,they're going to choose to listen or not to listen.
Whenyou have a bunch a young guys trying to learn the game and trying toget their feet wet, they have a tendency to want to listen more. Sothis year, since day one, I've already been talking, been pullingguys to the side and telling them about the offense and defense andthese guys want to learn.
Oneof the young guys he hopes to develop instant cohesion with is theteam's No. 6 overall pick Damian Lillard. The two have shown inpreseason that the pick-and-roll will be a primary, effective weaponin their arsenal.
It'sstill a work in progress as they try to figure out each others game.However, it's a process the All-Star forward doesn't mind goingthrough as he focuses on what could be of the two in the future.
Theydrafted him as the franchise point guard and he's very talented, giftedoffensively, passing the ball, things like that, Aldridge said. Idefinitely see us creating chemistry over the years and becoming avery dynamic one-two punch.
Ofcourse the debate will continue on if Aldridge is a number one typeof player or not, but there are a couple of points that have beenfully made clear: Aldridge is pumped about being the number one guy,he considers himself a number one guy, he doesn't feel theorganization needs to bring in a number one guy, and he's down forthe retooling period.
At atime in the NBA where superstars have teamed up together, it'srefreshing to hear an All-Star say he wants to win with in-housetalent. And Aldridge is confident that the Trail Blazers will be awinning organization again with him as the number one guy.
Iam the number one guy so there's no question about it, Aldridgesaid. It's been established that I am the number one guy. Buteverybody needs help. I've grown to at least be that guy who leads ateam, carry a team and I thought I was doing that last year before Igot hurt. They Trail Blazers organization believed in me and Ibelieve in myself and I think I'm going to lead this team to thepromise land.
It'salways going to be articles about me trying to leave, that's whatsells papers. I'm not worried about that. This is a good challengefor me to try to get better and try to lead this team. I've alwayswanted my own team and I have it.