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  1. #1
    Starter off the bench Uriel's Avatar
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    Turns out, the perception that Gregg Popovich -- increasingly cantankerous about the tyranny of 3s -- hemmed in Aldridge was incorrect. After last season, Popovich approached Aldridge and suggested the team would need him to shoot more 3s, Aldridge told ESPN.com.

    The Spurs ranked sixth in points per possession last season, largely on the back of incredible shooting that helped them overcome retrograde shot selection. A small slump, and they would lose their uphill battle against math.

    Aldridge amped up his 3-point reps over the summer. And then the season started, and Aldridge barely tried any. The Spurs' shooting indeed fell a bit shy of last season's levels. In mid-December, Popovich met with Aldridge again. It was time, the coach said.

    "We had a couple of bad shooting games, and Pop came to me and said, 'I think you need to start shooting it to open up the floor,'" Aldridge said. "It would give DeMar [DeRozan] more room. So I just started doing it."

    For reasons Aldridge can't quite explain, he felt ready. He knows the transition came more slowly than fans hoped -- slower than for Marc Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins, and Brook Lopez.

    LaMarcus Aldridge has nearly tripled his rate of 3-point attempts over the past month.

    "It has taken me longer than those guys," Aldridge said. "I just had to do it my way." Part of that involves taking the occasional off-the-dribble 3 -- including a few step-backs. Aldridge just likes that rhythm dribble. Popovich doesn't mind. "He's letting me shoot them my way," Aldridge said.

    Before Dec. 23, Aldridge averaged 1.7 3-point attempts per game. On that night against Memphis, he went 3-of-5. He has jacked 4.7 per game since. The exchange has come almost entirely out of midrange shots. Aldridge has hit a career-best 43% on 3s. He is literally one of the best 3-point shooters in the league right now. Welcome to the party, pal!

    Popovich has never urged him to chill with the 3s. "He's been on the other side of the spectrum," Aldridge said. "'You should have taken 10. Take 11.'"

    The Spurs rank second in points per possession since that Dec. 23 game. They have outscored opponents by 8.8 points per 100 possessions with Aldridge and DeRozan on the floor over those 15 games, reversing a season-plus of data pointing the other direction.

    DeRozan has feasted in open space. He just concluded a streak of 13 games in which he scored at least 20 points on 50% or better shooting. (He still mostly refuses 3s, and even when he tries, he often has a toe on the line. It's almost as if he's doing a bit, only it's more infuriating than funny.) With Aldridge willing to spot up in the corner, DeRozan has taken to running pick-and-rolls with Bryn Forbes and other guards -- daring the opposition to switch a smaller player onto him. If they trap or hedge, DeRozan knifes through crevices and saunters to the rim with no big man help defender in sight.

    "I'm gonna start taxing DeMar for all these open lanes," Aldridge chuckled.

    Opponents are already switching the DeRozan-Aldridge pick-and-roll more often, rather than allowing Aldridge to flare out for uncontested 3s. Both are exploiting the resulting mismatches.
    Every ball handler has noticed the improved spacing.

    "It helps me for sure," Dejounte Murray told ESPN.com. "It was just a matter of [Aldridge] feeling comfortable. He's the player. No one else can speak for how comfortable he is."

    It seems to be rubbing off on Murray. He has canned 14 3s since Dec. 16 after making only 23 in his career to that point. If Murray can hit jumpers, Popovich might entrust him with more ballhandling. "Hopefully I have freedom to do more," he said.

    The change required minimal redesign. That was what grated about Aldridge's stagnancy: San Antonio's offense organically produced chances for Aldridge to launch -- pick-and-pops, trail 3s, natural clearouts to the corner when DeRozan drove. Aldridge would either stop a foot short of the line, or step inside it.

    "I had to reprogram my mind: 'Don't take that step in,'" Aldridge said. "'Space to the 3. Don't trail inside for a 2.'"

    Aldridge becoming a deep threat might reopen the possibility of him and Jakob Poeltl playing together -- something that could stabilize San Antonio's 23rd-ranked defense. Popovich has largely mothballed that look after using it a lot last season. "The floor was too clogged," Aldridge said. "But [shooting 3s] could help us play bigger."

    Outside of a Jan. 12 game against Toronto, Popovich has kept the double-big look on ice. It requires Aldridge to defend power forwards, and he might not be up for that anymore. He has lost a half-step, something that shows up in his decreased free throws and offensive rebounds. Shooting more 3s is also a concession to aging.

    Regardless, it helps San Antonio's offense. Aldridge doesn't plan to stop. He's from Texas. He chose the Spurs. He does not want to be on the San Antonio team that busts the franchise's 22-year playoff streak -- especially with Popovich and Tim Duncan, the living embodiments of that streak, watching from the sidelines.

    "You never want to be the one that ends the legacy," Aldridge said.
    https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/...urs-new-threat

  2. #2
    Believe. Coach X's Avatar
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    I like the swap of spot up or p&pop long twos for threes but he must keep going to the paint and keep pounding the defense. A lot of teams play thin, agile centers and LA can own them close to the basket. Last season he improved his recognition and passing when doubled in the post. Don't know why the team stopped playing hi-lo actions where Aldridge got the ball next to the rim.

    Ideally he mixes up the post game and offensive rebounding with the spacing and 3pt shooting so he's a threat for the defense every possession. I didn't like his game the first weeks he started taking threes but lately he's mixing it up better. This new version of Aldridge is still a work in progress. The team needs him playing good D and rebounding and he needs his famous touches and scoring. Murray and White playing better should help Aldridge to get the ball on his spots and do his thing. It's a shame he hasn't had enough help from his PGs this season. Hopefully all the pieces of the puzzle start fitting together.

  3. #3
    Believe. Kobe'sAchilles's Avatar
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    Key part of the article was about Dejounte. If IB could actually shoot then we would have even greater spacing.

  4. #4
    D up! exstatic's Avatar
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    Key part of the article was about Dejounte. If IB could actually shoot then we would have even greater spacing.
    He's shooting 36%. He just needs to take more of them.

  5. #5
    "The ball don't lie." dbestpro's Avatar
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    Murray passes up open 3s too often to drive into the teeth of the defense.

  6. #6
    Believe. Sugus's Avatar
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    Not just Murray though... Almost every player on the team passes up wide open looks from 3 in favor of driving. Trey Lyles is especially annoying about this because he's supposed to be a good shooter from deep, clearly doesn't have a mid-range touch like DeMar has, and isn't really good at finishing strong at the rim or through contact, so a lot of his possessions are pump fake -> dribble into the paint -> shoot an awful mid-range once he sees the defender in front of him. DJ, though he needs to get more mass and muscle, has better touch around the rim and is slankier to get through defenses, while White is craftier (and has been taking more of those open 3's as of late).

    I hope when/if Becky takes the helm, she instills more modern offensive schemes and imposes players to take the open 3. Nowadays it's a necessity, teams are regularly shooting 35-40 3PA per game no matter how contested - you obviously don't want them to chuck but there's a middle ground there which would help the Spurs tremendously.

  7. #7
    Veteran JeffDuncan's Avatar
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    Some player shooting stats, as they now stand.

    Player, current 2pt%, current 3pt%.

    Listed in order of 2pt shooting, with 3pt shooting the tie breaker.

    DeRozan, 54.3, 29.6
    Aldridge, 52.8, 42.6
    Gay, 51.7, 33.1
    Mills, 51.4, 39.6
    Murray, 51.4, 35.8
    White, 51.2, 38.8
    Lyles, 49.5, 33.0
    Walker, 46.1, 38.8
    Upchuck, 46.1, 37.0
    Belinelli, 39.2, 35.2

  8. #8
    Derrick White fanboy FkLA's Avatar
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    Both White and Murray need to shoot them more. Both have made significant progress (especially White) but they're still not letting them fly enough. They'll render Brent useless if they can shoot them at ~35% with high volume, tbh.

  9. #9
    Believe. GAustex's Avatar
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    Upchuck
    lol

  10. #10
    You never know JPB's Avatar
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    At least we know Lowe's reading ST tbh

  11. #11
    You Are Not Worthy ZeusWillJudge's Avatar
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    So Pop told Aldridge to shoot more 3's, but he didn't do it until he was good and ready? Good to know that Pop really is just as hard on his stars as he is on the role players.

  12. #12
    Spurs Sage Russ's Avatar
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    So Pop told Aldridge to shoot more 3's, but he didn't do it until he was good and ready? Good to know that Pop really is just as hard on his stars as he is on the role players.
    Maybe Pop just wanted LMA to be comfortable while shooting 3's -- kind of a major consideration with that particular shot.

  13. #13
    You Are Not Worthy ZeusWillJudge's Avatar
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    Maybe Pop just wanted LMA to be comfortable while shooting 3's -- kind of a major consideration with that particular shot.

    I'm familiar with the concept. If he told Lonnie to go shoot more 3's and he didn't do it, Pop would send him back to the G-League. That's all I'm saying.

  14. #14
    Believe. Kobe'sAchilles's Avatar
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    He's shooting 36%. He just needs to take more of them.
    He's averaging half a made 3 a game. His shooting percentage doesn't mean . I agree he needs to up the volume though

  15. #15
    Every game is game 1 Seventyniner's Avatar
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    He's averaging half a made 3 a game. His shooting percentage doesn't mean . I agree he needs to up the volume though
    I think his percentage tells us that he's not a ty 3-point shooter like Westbrook. I agree about him needing to up the volume.

    IIRC he has a clause in his contract that gives him a bonus if he hits 125 threes on the season. Needless to say he won't be hitting that, he would have to hit 2.7 every game the rest of the season which would require 7.5 attempts per game at his shooting percentage.

  16. #16
    Believe.
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    Last time pop tried to change LMA game he demanded a trade lol. Nice to see him shooting it now at least.

    Everything just needs to adopt that Bryn formes syndrome and just simply let it fly from 3. Trey especially. Enough of the 3 fga nights. Just let it fly when demar inevitably passes it out after passing up a wide open 3 just to drive it in and pump fake 50 times.

  17. #17
    Believe.
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    Shocked he didn't demand a trade again tbh

  18. #18
    Believe. Kobe'sAchilles's Avatar
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    I think his percentage tells us that he's not a ty 3-point shooter like Westbrook. I agree about him needing to up the volume.

    IIRC he has a clause in his contract that gives him a bonus if he hits 125 threes on the season. Needless to say he won't be hitting that, he would have to hit 2.7 every game the rest of the season which would require 7.5 attempts per game at his shooting percentage.
    It doesn't tell us that at all. He only makes half a 3 a game. Him shooting 36% from a wide open ass shot (since teams are ducking under every screen of his) doesn't prove he's a good 3 point shooter Let me guess, Zion's 100% 3 point percentage shows us he's the greatest shooter ever. FOH

  19. #19
    D up! exstatic's Avatar
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    It doesn't tell us that at all. He only makes half a 3 a game. Him shooting 36% from a wide open ass shot (since teams are ducking under every screen of his) doesn't prove he's a good 3 point shooter Let me guess, Zion's 100% 3 point percentage shows us he's the greatest shooter ever. FOH
    It proves that he's improved. I agree that the sample size is small, but it's not insignificant. He shot a far lower rate on even fewer 3s per game last year. He's also shot (and made) a LOT more recently, which is what bumped his % up.

  20. #20
    Every game is game 1 Seventyniner's Avatar
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    It doesn't tell us that at all. He only makes half a 3 a game. Him shooting 36% from a wide open ass shot (since teams are ducking under every screen of his) doesn't prove he's a good 3 point shooter Let me guess, Zion's 100% 3 point percentage shows us he's the greatest shooter ever. FOH
    I didn't say it proved he's a good shooter, I said it shows that he probably isn't a bad one. Those aren't the same thing.

    And if he's not at least an okay 3-point shooter, why should he up his volume?

  21. #21
    Believe. Kobe'sAchilles's Avatar
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    It proves that he's improved. I agree that the sample size is small, but it's not insignificant. He shot a far lower rate on even fewer 3s per game last year. He's also shot (and made) a LOT more recently, which is what bumped his % up.
    I agree that he has improved. Almost impossible for him to go down tbh since he made like 10 in his career before this year. But he still isn't a threat. That's my point. Once he takes around 5 a game and keeps up his shooting percentage will I consider him an actual threat. For now, he's part of the problem of why the lane was so clogged (and obviously DeFrozen as well)

  22. #22
    Believe. Kobe'sAchilles's Avatar
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    I didn't say it proved he's a good shooter, I said it shows that he probably isn't a bad one. Those aren't the same thing.

    And if he's not at least an okay 3-point shooter, why should he up his volume?
    I just want Dejounte to have a gunners mentality. Idgaf if he sucks at shooting 3s. He has shown improvement like you said, but he plays scared. And playing scared ruins your game. Shoot 5 a game at 29% like Westbrook for all I care.

  23. #23
    Veteran K...'s Avatar
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    Biggest news in this article is the implications that pop is having fun. Oh and no one's getting traded.

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