Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 2/4/13
LA at center? Throughout his NBA career, LaMarcus Aldridge has become one of the best power forwards in the game. He’s an inside-outside threat, he’s a two-time All-Star and his game has improved drastically since the departure of Brandon Roy. So why would we want to move the big man away from his natural position? Simply put, he has the potential to be even better as the Portland Trail Blazers’ starting center. *All advanced statistics are provided by 82games.com and accurate as of Feb. 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM PT.    LaMarcus Aldridge has proven he can play center. (Photo: Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY Sports) *The Big Disclaimer Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. LaMarcus Aldridge has only played nine percent of the 2012-13 season at the center position. The sample size is small, and it’s possible that more minutes would balance out the impressive showings we’ve seen thus far. But on a team that has lacked a dominant center for so many years, the risk of balancing out statistics might be worth it. The Blazers are fighting for a playoff spot out West, and half way through the season, Aldridge has been more productive when he’s playing the 5-spot than when he’s playing power forward. Offense Aldridge has been touted throughout the years for his deadly jump shot. His range has extended season after season, and he’s trusted to score the ball virtually anywhere inside the three-point line. The past few years, though, we’ve seen the big man develop more moves inside, and that’s the kind of versatility that helps take advantage of bigger players. At the power forward position, Aldridge is averaging 25.2 points per 48 minutes. However, when he’s played center this season, that number has jumped up to 28.1. That’s good enough to put him just outside the top 10, which makes sense considering his field-goal percentage increases from 46.4 percent to 51.1 percent. Per 48 minutes, Aldridge also averages 3.5 fouls per game. That number drops to 2.6 when at the 5-spot. If you’re unfamiliar with ESPN’s PER stat, it is defined as “the overall rating of a player’s per-minute statistical production,” (according to ESPN). When Aldridge is playing the 4, his PER is 18.6—3.6 above the league average. However, when he plays center, his PER skyrockets to 25.3. Only four players in the league have a higher number than that approaching All-Star Weekend, and those players are Brook Lopez, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Defense Defense is where Aldridge’s game has always needed the most work. He’s only averaged one block per game throughout his six-and-a-half years, and his toughness has often times been questioned against bigger competition. LaMarcus Aldridge has been a better rebounder as a center this season. (Photo: Bruce Ely/The Oregonian) When you look at the stats, though, for the 2012-13 season, you have to question whether or not that criticism is 100 percent valid. As a center this season, Aldridge has out-rebounded his opponents 14.3 rebounds per 48 minutes to just 7.6. As a power forward, he’s averaged just 10.6 rebounds—a number that is completely negated by the 10.6 rebounds he’s allowed to his competition. When playing his natural position, the Blazers’ big man allows his fellow forwards to post a 16.0 PER. That number is 1.0 above the league average, and it drops to just 12.7 when he plays center. It’s true that Aldridge allows his center competition to shoot a higher percentage than his fellow power forwards, but he also draws 2.3 more fouls per game as the man in the middle. He commits 3.5 fouls per 48 minutes as a 4, and that number drops nearly a whole foul when he plays the 5. Why It Still Won’t Happen When it comes down to it, Aldridge simply doesn’t want to play center. Despite the evidence that he can handle his own against the bigs of the NBA, the 6’11” forward wants “the luxury of playing with a dominant center,” according to The Columbian’s Candace Buckner (h/t Blazer’s Edge). Given more minutes, it’s possible that Aldridge could be that dominant center. But when it comes down to it, you have to keep your stars happy, and Aldridge is happy as a power forward. J.J. Hickson has done a remarkable job playing center this year, but his future is in flux, as he’s in a contract season.  Portland could be looking for a new big man this summer, and while Aldridge makes sense, expect them to look elsewhere when it comes to the starting center position. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III will play some offense

Rutgers dismissed five football players who were arrested

Report: Independent neurologist resigns following RG3 disaster

Fabio Fognini stuns Rafael Nadal in epic match

Report: Patrick Kane’s rape case will soon be heard by grand jury

Brady issues statement on Facebook after having suspension lifted

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Don Orsillo reportedly asked to lie about being fired by NESN

Matt Cassel believes Bills will keep three quarterbacks

St. Louis police seize scalpers' World Series tickets to give to friends

Eli Manning happy Tom Brady will play NFL season opener

Phil Kessel has shed 13 pounds this summer

Cam Newton addresses ‘gang’ photo on Instagram

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Wisconsin vs Alabama preview

Tom Brady issues statement on Facebook

Robert Griffin III and a dream deferred

Best, worst surprises of NFL preseason

The Gospel Of Harbaugh prepares for its ultimate test of faith

Meet the Utah Utes, the pluckiest program in college football

Iman Shumpert will name daughter Iman Shumpert Jr.

Dallas company celebrates Romo with DirecTV 'crownies'

Top 10 storylines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason

Matt Williams is still hopelessly married to the idea of the closer’s role

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker