With the start of the 2014 NBA Playoffs less that 24 hours away, NBA.com has released their final “Race To The MVP” rankings of the regular season. After starting the season not listed, then making the Top 10, eventually moving all the way up to third, then falling completely out of the Top 10 only to return in the final weeks of the season, Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge ends the year ranked No. 5 …
Aldridge made the transition from All-Star to MVP candidate is one of the true surprise stories of the season. Not much was expected of his Trail Blazers, who were among the top teams in the entire league through the season’s first three months. They stumbled after the All-Star break and when Aldridge went down with a back injury, but promptly resumed their impressive play when he returned. Aldridge asserted himself on the boards this season, averaging a career-high 11.1 rpg to go along with his career-high 23.2 ppg and career-high tying 2.6 apg. His length and ability to face up and stretch his game out to 19-feet makes him a matchup nightmare on most every night. The Houston Rockets will soon find this out in the first round of the playoffs.
Aldridge doesn’t seem to be getting much credit for his career year or the unexpected success of the Trail Blazers this season, as most of the ballots for All-NBA teams I’ve seen do not include Aldridge. That’s not entirely surprising, as power forward is the most stacked position in the NBA, but anyone who watched the Trail Blazers after Aldridge went out with a lower back contusion knows just how valuable he is to Portland. Finishing fifth the NBA.com MVP ranking reflects that.
Aldridge ends up in fifth behind Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Blake Griffin and Joakim Noah. He is ranked ahead of Al Jefferson, Stephen Curry, Tim Duncan and Goran Dragic.