LaMarcus Aldridge is Keeping the Low Post Game Alive

Big men who back down their defenders in the low post are undoubtedly a dying breed. Despite the way the game has changed, LaMarcus Aldridge still manages to make these old-school moves work in the modern game.

If you watch highlights from any night of NBA basketball, it's easy to see that the glory days of the low post player are over. Talented guards abound, with explosive speed and mind-boggling handles. New analytics prove just how inefficient the mid-range jump shot is, and the best teams streamline their offenses to points in the paint and three-point shots.

This era's big men cannot be as slow and careful as yesterday's. Modern centers must be able to shoot and guard the three-point shot or risk being exploited time and time again by the opposition. Today's stars are not known for their moves in the post. It is the high-flying-dunkers, the foul-drawers, and the three-point-makers who are the face of the league today. It's a small ball revolution.

 “We are losing a part of our sport,” Jason Kidd said, per Zach Lowe.“There are maybe two handfuls of guys who can post up anymore.”

Good post moves are slow and methodical, not flashy. They don't bring the crowd to its feet like a great dunk or driving layup. They can't build or erase big leads in seconds like the three-point shot. Backing a guy down just isn't terribly exciting to watch or statistically efficient.

And yet, there's still something to be said for the back-to-the-basket game. For so many years, dominant big men built their careers on great post-ups. Wilt Chamberlain played mainly in the post and managed to average a super-human 50 points per game. When the massive Shaquille O'Neal went to work down low, there was almost nothing defenses could do to stop him. 

“Anybody who has a good post game can cause a lot of trouble because you can’t guard them, even if it’s a guard [posting up],” Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon said, per Fred Katz. “If a smaller guard is guarding me, my advantage is inside. I’m going to post him. That’s the way the mentality of the post is.” Olajuwon should know. He was arguably the greatest post player the league has ever seen. 

In San Antonio, the history of the post-up runs deep. Two of the franchise's most beloved stars, Tim Duncan and David Robinson, were skilled post players. The Twin Towers were dominant in their era and won championships in 1998/99 and 2002/03. The fact that Robinson, the 1995 MVP and a 10-time All-Star, was the "other guy" in this pair speaks volumes about their preeminence. 

Today, LaMarcus Aldridge is carrying on this tradition. Without Kawhi Leonard, Aldridge is the Spurs' main vehicle for offensive creation. This means that as Aldridge's move of choice, post-ups abound in San Antonio. 

“He’s been dominant,” Head coach of the Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr said, per the Mercury News. “He’s one of the best low-post players in the league.”

Apparently, Aldridge never got the memo that mid-range jump shots aren't efficient enough for the modern game. He leads the league in mid-range shot attempts with 7.3 per game. 

However, when Aldridge gets his back to the basket, he has more options than just a turnaround jumper. The All-Star has a diverse array of post moves that keep defenses questioning what he's going to do next. 

Here, Aldridge uses his strength to back down Trey Lyles. He fakes right, drawing the defender off balance, which allows him to finish easily with his left hand. This season, he is shooting 67.3 percent within 5 feet of the rim. 

A few plays later, Aldridge finds himself guarded by Nikola Jokic, a stronger but slower defender. Aldridge isn't known for his speed, but he is quicker than Jokic. He drives right and manages to get his shoulder in front of Jokic, setting himself up for a neat hook shot.

 Aldridge doesn't just use his post moves for scoring, however. He is also talented at setting up his teammates from down low. Because he is such a huge threat close to the basket, he often draws a double team. Here, Tyler Johnson is forced to sag off Patty Mills to provide help defense on Aldridge, who is getting alarmingly close to the basket. Aldridge immediately passes it to Mills for an open three-point shot. 

In this video, Aldridge showcases yet another nice assist from the low post. After turning his back to Kevin Love, he hands off the ball to a driving Tony Parker for a nice layup. 

Undoubtedly, the post game is going out of style in the NBA. Aldridge is somewhat of a dinosaur, a dying breed of a time gone by. Critics say it's time for the Spurs to modernize, to keep up with the super teams around them. And yet, something is working. Despite the fact that the game has changed, despite the insurgence of small ball, despite missing their best player for nearly the entire season, the Spurs are expected to win 46 games this year. It's a testament to Aldridge and his old school moves that a low post player can still lead a team to the playoffs in today's NBA.

Like what you've read? Share it with your friends on      or  

Go ad-free by supporing Hashtag Basketball on Patreon for $2/mo

More Information

Premium Fantasy Basketball Tools

Import Yahoo & Fantrax leagues and analyze them with our free tools.

More information

2021 NBA Draft Prospects

Meet the top 45 prospects of the 2021 NBA Draft.

More information

© 2014-2021 Hashtag Basketball