Aldridge No. 10 On ESPN Postseason MVP Rankings

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

While Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating game-winner versus the Rockets in Game 6 that be the enduring memory of Portland’s 2014 playoff run, it was LaMarcus Aldridge’s near perfection in Game 1 and Game 2 of that allowed the Trail Blazers to take the first two games in Houston, and eventually, the series. The quality of his consecutive 40+ point performances put Aldridge at the top of the first ESPN postseason MVP rankings.

Of course, the Trail Blazers would eventually lose to San Antonio in five games during the Western Conference semifinals, but Aldridge’s performances versus Houston was the reason the Trail Blazers were able to win their first playoff series in 14 years. Which is why, despite being eliminated from the postseason almost two weeks ago, Aldridge remains in the Top 10 of David Thorpe’s most recent postseason MVP ranking for ESPN …


GP     MPG     PPG     RPG     APG     BPG     SPG     PER     EWA*
11        40.1        26.2      10.6        1.5          1.6         0.6        21.23      2.1

It’s fair to wonder what might have happened had Damian Lillard not made that prayer of a 3 to beat Houston in Game 6 of their first-round series. What if Houston had come back to win the series? The Rockets were built to beat any team, especially with the way Dwight Howard was playing, and had swept the Spurs during the regular season.

This is just academic consideration, of course, because of what Aldridge did to the Rockets throughout that series. The Spurs seem primed to advance to the NBA Finals, and if that happens, they should thank Aldridge.

Couple things here.

First, Lillard’s shot wasn’t a “prayer.” Lillard has been as clutch as most any player in the NBA through his first two season and he exploited truly terrible defense by the Rockets to get a clean look at a three-pointer well within his range. That’s not a prayer, it’s game.

Then there’s the line “the Rockets were built to beat any team” which elicits a chuckle from yours truly every time I read it. There’s verifiable proof, as in, they lost in the first round to the Trail Blazers, that Houston was not in fact “built to beat any team.” Or maybe that’s how they were built, but it sure isn’t how reality played out.

And of course, the Nets swept the Heat in the regular season and it didn’t keep them from being dispatched in five games by Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals, so I’d be real reluctant to assume Houston would have fared any better against San Antonio than Portland did. In fact, I’d make no such assumption whatsoever, especially with San Antonio proving they only need opponents to screw up for roughly five minutes a game to come away with a blowout victory.

But none of that changes what should be the takeaway from Thorpe’s ranking, which is that Aldridge capped off his best professional regular season with a postseason that ranks among the best in the NBA this year. Aldridge is the only player on Thorpe’s ranking whose team has been eliminated from the postseason, which is high praise.

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Podcast: The Rip City Report, Finalized Roster Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 day ago

Greetings podcast enthusiasts. Between CJ McCollum getting an extension and Moe Harkless signing a new deal, Portland’s roster for the start of the 2016-17 regular season is all but finalized. So it seemed like a good time to hit the studio with Joe Freeman of The Oregonian/ to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…

On this edition, we discuss the near-max extension for McCollum and the four-year, roughly $40 million contract for Harkless, which directions Terry Stotts might go in terms of starting lineups and minutes allocations, the news that both Al-Farouq Aminu and Festus Ezeli will forego playing for Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Olympics, give a quick rundown of the preseason schedule and answer your Twitter-submitted questions.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. Thanks as always for listening.

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VIDEO: McCollum Brothers Talk Tournament, Who’s Mom’s Favorite on ESPN

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 day ago

Last weekend, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and his older brother, Errick, were guests on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss, amongst other things, The Basketball Tournament, which is billed as a “open application, 5-on-5, single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament” in which the winning team takes home $2 million in prize money. Errick’s team, Overseas Elite, won the tournament last year and are in the finals, which airs Tuesday at 4 PM Pacific on ESPN, again this year.

But the tournament wasn’t the only topic of conversation, as any time you get two brothers together, you’re contractually obligated to ask them which is mom’s favorite. One one had, CJ still lives with his mom, so you might assume he’s the got the No. 1 son ranking sewn up, but it sounds like Errick was the much better behaved child and mom’s tend to have long memories, so it sounds like it’s a bit of a tossup.


“CJ, he was a good kid,” said Errick, “he just liked to get into things. He was really physical. She couldn’t take him around any other kids or he would, like, get into little altercations with them because he just played too rough.”

Sounds about right.

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Stotts Talks Super Teams And Suits On The Doug Gottlieb Show

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 days ago

On Thursday, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was a guest on The Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio. Over the 15 minute conversation, Stotts discusses LeBron James saying he would have been his pick for 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, Kevin Durant signing as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, the notion of “super teams” in the NBA, having confidence in your players and his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive.

You can listen to the entire interview here, though I’m transcribed a portion which you can read below…

On LeBron James saying Stotts should have been Coach of the Year:
“To be honest, it felt pretty good. I have a lot of respect obviously for LeBron, what he does and what he’s done in his career, but for him to come out and say that, it made me feel good.”

On Cleveland winning the NBA Finals after being down 3-1 to Golden State:
“Obviously it was historical. A lot of things went into it, but when a team can do that and to win two games on the road being down 3-1, it’s really remarkable. It just put an end to a historical season as it was with Golden State and what they did during the regular season, the way they came back against Oklahoma City and then for Cleveland to do that, it was just remarkable. I thought it was a remarkable season to begin with and it finished that way.”

On Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors:
“My first reaction was he earned the right to be a free agent. I know a lot of thought went into it and it wasn’t a decision that he took lightly. I know he took a lot of criticism for making that decision but I think he earned that right to make whatever decision he felt was best for him. I think it’s going to be interesting with Golden State. Obviously defending them is going to be a challenge because — we talked about versatility — they were already an extremely talented offensive team and he’s going to make them better. They’re going to be a different team than they were last year, they’re not going to have the big guys. When you lose Festus Ezeli, who is on our team now, and Andre Bogut and Maurice Speights, the look of their frontline is going to be different. But I think they could be just as good just because of what they’ll be able to do at the offensive end.”

His thoughts on “super teams” in the NBA:
“You know, I don’t know if it’s good or bad for the league. I’ve just kind of accepted that that’s the way things are. I know people have made comparisons when LeBron went to Miami and that was supposedly the first super team and they won two championships, but it’s not like there was a five year, seven year run dynasty. When you get out on the court, you still have to play the games. Obviously Golden State is going to be very good, but you’ve got to play an 82-game season, you’ve got to go through four series to win a championship. I think the league does thrive on star power, whether it’s star power within a team or having a team be a star. I don’t know, I think the league is doing extremely well, I think it’s extremely popular. I think this is just another story that people are going to be interested in.”

On having confidence in shooters like Allen Crabbe and CJ McCollum:
“I’m a big believer in confidence when shooting. It probably goes back to my freshman year in college when I didn’t know whether to shoot or (laughs) you know the phrase. But anyway, I’m a big believer in confidence and Allen and CJ are two different categories. CJ struggled with injuries his first two years and was trying to get incorporated into a roster that was winning 50 games and never really got into a rhythm. I think shooting is about rhythm and confidence. Same thing for AC, really, is that he did have opportunities to play in his first two years but he was playing behind Wes Matthews and Nic Batum and his opportunities on the court were limited. When you’re looking over your shoulder and trying not to make mistakes and putting pressure on (yourself) to make a shot, it’s difficult. I really give it to CJ and Allen, they were ready for this year and they were prepared for it, the opportunity was going to be there. But I think that a lot of players — and you know, you played — is that if the coach trusts me, I’m going to play better. Whether I trusted them or not their first two years, certainly their opportunity was there and I trusted them with the role that they were going to have.”

On his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive:
“Every year what I do is I go through the closet and knowing that I’m going to get some suits in the fall, I go through and weed out the older ones. There’s certain ones that I do kind of have a special place in my heart for them, but other than that, I just take some of the older suits and the Men’s Wearhouse has a great program with the suit drive to give away suits to people who can use them. I’m kind of a bigger guy so hopefully there’s some big guys out there who are able to take advantage of them.”

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