Pick and rolls are LaMarcus Aldridge's kryptonite

Pick and rolls are LaMarcus Aldridge's kryptonite
March 12, 2014, 11:15 am
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LA: Would you be in a good mood if you just lost 3 in a row?

First there was this blog post last week detailing statistics that show LaMarcus Aldridge as just about the worst pick-and-roll defender among big men in the NBA:

According to SportVU, the Blazers ranked 26th in pick-and-roll defense through Monday’s games and are up to 22nd after a game against the reeling Hawks on Wednesday. They’ve allowed 1.06 points per pick-and-roll possession overall, even though they’ve been pretty good when Lopez has been the guy defending the screener, allowing just 1.01. That ranks 55th among 134 players who had been the screener’s defender on at least 200 pick-and-roll possessions through Wednesday. Not great, but above-average.

Note: All stats included here are through Wednesday, March 5.

But near the bottom of the list is Lopez’s frontcourt-mate, LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers have allowed 1.17 points per possession when Aldridge has been the guy defending the screener. Of those 134 players who have defended at least 200 pick-and-roll possessions, only one – Trevor Booker – has a higher mark (1.18).

But now, when you watch the Trail Blazers closely, you sometimes wonder if Aldridge is worse at the pick-and-roll on the other end of the court -- when he's the guy setting the pick. He's just not giving the guard -- usually Damian Lillard -- enough of a pick to get open. In fact, he often evacuates the pick before there's any contact. That usually doesn't work so well and might help explain Aldridge's lack of open shots recently.

The player setting the pick is often the one who gets the good shot off a pick-and-roll situation. Setting a rock-solid pick forces the defense into all sorts of problems with rotations, mismatches and open players. We see it all the time when Portland is defending the pick-and-roll. But in Aldridge's case, he's often in such a hurry to pop out for his jump shot (he very seldom actually "rolls" to the basket), he doesn't hold the pick long enough. Once in a while, "slipping" the pick is a good move but Aldridge does it way too often.

Often, when a team is not playing well, it can profit from a "back-to'basics" approach and I think in the case of the Trail Blazers, this would be a good place to start.