San Antonio Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge’s absence a critical loss

On Monday the San Antonio Spurs announced that All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge would miss the season after surgery. This is a major blow to their playoff hopes.

Last week we learned that the San Antonio Spurs would be among the 22 teams invited to Orlando for the NBA’s restarted season. That’s good news as the Spurs are looking to extend their NBA record-tying 22 straight playoff appearances.

On Monday, however, the bad news came when the Spurs announced that All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge would miss the rest of the 2019-20 season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder.

The Spurs were already on the outside looking in on the Western Conference playoff picture even at full strength, but the absence of Aldridge should put a cap on what has been a disappointing season in San Antonio. As of the NBA’s coronavirus-induced hiatus, the Spurs had a 27-36 record and were four games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

From a counting stats perspective, Aldridge’s numbers dipped a bit. He averaged just 18.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, both among the lowest of his career. He also had among the lowest field goal percentages of his career, hitting just 49.3 percent of his field goal attempts.

However, while these raw numbers dipped, his efficiency actually peaked. He had a career-best effective field goal percentage of 53.2 percent and his true shooting percentage was 57.1 percent, second-best in his career. This is largely thanks to career-high 3-point shooting volume and accuracy. He took 3.0 3-pointers per game (his previous career-high was 1.5 in 2014-15) and hit 38.9 percent from long range.

Thanks to playing with DeMar DeRozan, his usage dipped from 26.9 percent a year ago to 23.6 percent this season, so he had the ball less but was better overall with it when he did get it.

Now that he’s out for the rest of the season, the San Antonio Spurs will likely find the end result of the relaunch of their season will be an ignominious one. Perhaps an unsung hero will step up and carry them into the playoffs against all odds, or maybe DeRozan will play lights-out basketball and get the job done.

More likely than not, though, LaMarcus Aldridge’s season ending will be the end of the season for the Spurs as well.

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