With news breaking that a Kevin Love deal is all but inevitable, the Western Conference’s platoon of power forwards really has only two stars remaining: Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. Although contrasting in style, both Aldridge and Griffin are poised to make a difference in the West this year.
Last season, the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers were two of the conference’s most successful teams, and that could largely be attributed to their power forward play. Ever since returning from a knee injury after his rookie year, Griffin has shown nothing but improvement, especially in his shooting touch.
Aldridge, who has been putting up solid numbers at the four spot for several years, finally broke into the league spotlight last year with a solid All-Star performance punctuated by back-to-back 40-point games in the playoffs.
If Love ends up packing his bags and heading to the East, the Western Conference landscape will be barren at the four position, leaving plenty of room for Aldridge and Griffin to thrive. Aldridge has averaged at least 18 points and eight rebounds per game in each of the last five seasons, with last year’s 23-point, 11-rebound average marking career-highs in both categories. Despite playing for a small-market team, these numbers are hard to ignore.
Right now, the NBA is going through its awkward transition phase, relying more on small ball and perimeter shooting while continuing to stress the importance of big men and post offense. Although Griffin is clearly a better athlete, Aldridge’s impressive shooting touch and refined post game makes an equally effective big man.
Regardless, both forwards have a lot of space around them to make a huge impact in the Western Conference.
Jeremy Rucker is a Portland Trail Blazers writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyR327