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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Keegan

Post man Aldrich a good fit with Oklahoma City

Former Kansas University center Cole Aldrich speaks with reporters during the 2010 NBA Draft media availability in New York. Aldrich figures to receive an opportunity for major minutes in Oklahoma City, a team that lacked a consistent post presence last season.

Former Kansas University center Cole Aldrich speaks with reporters during the 2010 NBA Draft media availability in New York. Aldrich figures to receive an opportunity for major minutes in Oklahoma City, a team that lacked a consistent post presence last season.

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Oklahoma City is as much the right place for Cole Aldrich to baptize his professional career as declaring for the NBA Draft after his junior season was the right time.

Based on little more than his size, hands, shot-blocking timing and Final Four performance against North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough, Aldrich would have been selected in the 2008 draft, probably somewhere in the back of the first round to a winning team with an established front-line center.

That would have put the likable center from the Twin Cities on the same path former one-year Ohio State post player B.J. Mullens took, the project path, the one which, if all goes well, might lead to backup-center status. Mullens, a rookie for Oklahoma City last season, appeared in 14 games for the Thunder and played part of the season in the NBA Developmental League. It’s also known as the D League, or better known as the No D League. Head cases pursuing points, not victories, infect the league. It’s no place to develop, but it’s better than riding the bench and getting overmatched by more developed bodies and minds with NBA experience. Playing for a winning, elite college basketball team benefits a young post player far more than either of those paths.

Players who enter the NBA too soon tend to learn how to survive, rather than thrive. The NBA does not offer fertile soil for re-planting shattered confidence.

Wisely, Aldrich stayed three seasons at Kansas, developing confidence and muscles enough that the Thunder, starved for a first-string center, will give him a chance to win serious minutes, even starts.

If Aldrich doesn’t have enough talent to become an NBA starting center, it won’t happen anywhere. If he does, it can start happening right away for him because nobody intimidating stands in his way.

Nenad Krstic, 26, started but averaged just 23 minutes per game. He averaged 8.4 points and five rebounds. He’s skilled, not a bad defender, but he never has been a shot-blocker or a rugged rebounder. He averaged 0.6 blocks per game.

Krstic’s knack for missing easy shots down low in the playoffs against the Lakers didn’t win him any friends. Defenses collapsing on Kevin Durant will provide the sure-handed Aldrich with ample scoring opportunities. (Note to Cole: Go straight up with it and shoot. Don’t pump-fake when it’s not necessary.)

Serge Ibaka, who came to the Thunder after an extra year of polishing in Spain, averaged 6.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots in 18.1 minutes per game, but most of his time comes at power forward. The contract of veteran Etan Thomas has expired and he’s expected to sign elsewhere.

The Thunder’s choice of 7-foot-1 Tibor Pleiss with the first pick of the second round drew praise from many corners and so did the Thunder’s decision to send him back to the German League for at least one more year, where the mobile center with a soft shooting touch can increase his strength.

Even though Aldrich had a shaky junior season in many ways, the extra year of physical and emotional maturity gives him a better shot at a long and successful NBA career.

Comments

Kevin Studer 4 years, 4 months ago

Nice article and all, but is anyone else concerned with the fact that Cole measured 6' 9" in street clothes at the combine? That does not help his NBA future in any way.

Jonathan Andrews 4 years, 4 months ago

That was 6'9.0" BAREFOOT; I have a feeling that the Thunder aren't going to ask him to play without basketball shoes. He measured 6'11.25" with shoes. It's weird, but it happens every year at the combine. Someone brings flip-flops and only gaisn 3/4 of an inch in height (no lie, this year it was Hassan Whiteside), while others like our boy Cole either had to have been slouching during the first measurement, or they allowed him to wear Saturday Night Fever style platform shoes.

Not that his pure height matters a ton with his more-than-ample standing reach and wingspan for the C position, but I simply cannot understand why people are so wrapped up in height, ESPECIALLY barefoot height these days. I'd better go before I start to preachify...

qrex 4 years, 4 months ago

People are always looking flaws. Don't believe me; prior to being drafted, Kevin Durant was criticized not being able to bench press very much weight. Funny thing, it didn't stop him from leading the league in scoring in his 3rd year.

Unless Cole is suddenly smaller than all other centers, technique will matter more the an inch or two, and I think we would have noticed this lack of height somewhere along Cole's collegiate career.

Kevin Studer 4 years, 4 months ago

Regardless, Cole is an awfully small center by NBA standards. He will be a great help defender, but controlling the paint may be asking a bit too much of him - on either end of the court.

doolindalton 4 years, 4 months ago

I wish Cole the best, but Nick Collison was a better college player and rarely sees the ball and I think he plays behind Ibaka. The Thunder is a guard dominated team that doesn't believe in getting the ball inside--ever. Cole's shot blocking ability may earn him a few minutes but his game will never develop with the Thunder. The ideal basketball situation for Cole would have been the Celtics who need a replacement for the departing Rasheed Wallace.

Kevin Studer 4 years, 4 months ago

Cole would have rotted behind Perkins and Davis in Boston.

doolindalton 4 years, 4 months ago

Perkins has a very, very serious knee injury and Cole is potentially more versatile than Davis, though pairing the two when Garnett is sitting would have been interesting.

KUFan90 4 years, 4 months ago

Cole is a completely different player than Wallace. He isn't what the Celts are looking for as a Wallace replacement.

qrex 4 years, 4 months ago

Last season the Thunder wouldn't go inside because, prior to the late season emergence of Ibaka, there was no one inside. That limited talent inside is also what eventually doomed the Thunder in the playoffs.

If Cole can make the step up to NBA performance (college experience in a tough league is not the NBA), as a Thunder season ticket holder, I'm almost giddy. A big man inside has been seen as the last piece of the puzzle. I'm also hoping he won't forget to boxout at the end of the game.

doolindalton 4 years, 4 months ago

Nick Collison has yet to have a coach who understands what he is capable of doing as a low post player. Since he is making over $6 million a season, I don't feel sorry for him, but he is a far better player inside than he is given credit for.

JHawk74 4 years, 4 months ago

The Thunder didn't have a good post player is why they didn't go inside. Of course Durant and Westbrook are the featured players. But having a post presence will make Durant and Westbrook a better players. They have lots of young post players but Cole is a true center and can help immediately. If he plays as well as the Lopez twins in the NBA, he will be a solid player.

Scott Smetana 4 years, 4 months ago

Nice Post. I believe that's how Ostertag did so well for so long.

KEITHMILES05 4 years, 4 months ago

Watching CA his freshman year he seemed pretty polished. I was astounded how well he would keep the ball up high after rebounding it and not that dumb pump fake. So/Jr years he became like 95% other bigs and tried putting it on the floor. Very weird how Manning didn't beat it out of him. That was really his downfall. However, he has the best outlet passes in college. So sweet! If he can find a team likes to run/gun that will be extremely beneficial.

okiedave 4 years, 4 months ago

Cole, weclome to Oklahoma. Best things about Oklahoma is that it is close enough to Lawrence to be able to visit often and go to selected football and basketball games. I would suggest that you look for homes in the North area of OKC since you can reduce your drive to Lawrence by 1/2 hour. Stillwater would be even closer, but the town is really poorly developed and the University is dull and, in comparison, makes Lawrence look like heaven on earth. You would probably get depressed in Stillwater.

Or, if you simply want humorous entertainment, you may want to move 20 min. sought and attend a shattered [and, most likely, soon to be on probation] O.U. basketball program workout or game. The town is even worse than Stillwater and I would advise you that living in Norman is not conducive to a peaceful and relaxing lifestyle.

Second best thing about Oklahoma is that the people are really great and friendly. Good place to raise a family.

My very best advice would be see if you can get traded to K.C. and live in Lawrence.

aerohawk 4 years, 4 months ago

Its been a while since there was an NBA team in KC.

Martin Rosenblum 4 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, those games in Kemper Arena really pack em in!

Maybe okiedave meant "..traded to the Royals". Or, maybe the Chiefs.

slowplay 4 years, 4 months ago

What I don't get are all the negative references to his scoring ability. Everyone forgets that KU was a perimeter shooting team in both Cole's Soph. & Jr. seasons. He was constantly double teamed in the post and therefore became an excellent inside-out passer. He has the baby hook and a nice fade shot down low. He keeps the ball up and is strong with rebound put backs. Opposing teams have to focus on Durant and Cole will get his chances inside. Being a good FT shooter doesn't hurt either. I see Cole competing for serious PT and most likely will average 8-10 pts/game. If he becomes a starter, that will rise to around 12-15 pts/game.

jaybate 4 years, 4 months ago

"Keegsian Logic, or Cole Needs 25 on Top and a Blood Red Mohawk"

Given Keegsian logic, which in this case happens to be spot on (and, yes, it is nice to read Keegs writing without his Sherron-grudge hat on), it was unfortunate that Keegs did not let his logical principle about staying in D1 till one has the basics operate about Aldrich.

Cole lacks top-side mass.

Cole looks as pale and wasted now, as he did last season.

Cole has not looked healthy, since his sophomore season.

Letting the Keegsian logical principle operate on the data, Cole needed to stay one more year at KU to do nothing but focus on putting on 20 more pounds above the waist this off season.

At 6'11" (or 6'9" in bare feet) and only 236, Cole faces one of two NBA futures this coming season:

1) get the hell kicked out of him by every 4 and 5 in the league he lines up against; or

2) put on 20 pounds.

Few forecasts in life are this simple, but this one is.

At 236 pounds, Cole is light enough to get out-muscled by some SFs in the NBA. Consider the nights the OKC Thunder play the LA Lakers. SF Ron Artest is 6'7" and 260. C Andrew Bynum weighs 285, and PF Pao Gasol weighs 250. Unless the college game is now rougher than the pros, Cole can't guard the 3, 4 or 5 without double team help...and a lot of it.

Timberwolf C Kevin Garnett is generally thought of as a very slight big man in the NBA and he is 6'11" and 253 pounds. C Kendrick Perkins is 6'10" and 280, while Big Baby is 6'9" and 280. Who can Cole guard without double team help all night here? Maybe SF Paul Pierce? Paul is only 6'7", but at 235 he ways as much as Cole and Paul is a wee bit quicker. He would definitely require some help with Pierce, too.

I think Cole could be a very good center, or power forward in the L at 260 for a team that does not need scoring out of him, i.e., with a superstar scoring machine at the 2 or 3 positions, or at whatever big spot Cole does not play. Cole has the kind of defensive and rebounding skills that one can't teach. He has the kind of want-to that mostly those from the economic edge possess. He has some (but not all) of the things that made Bill Russell great. But even Russ would have had to bulk up to play today's game.

Now, about the OKC Thunder being a great place for Cole to go.

Yes and no.

If instant minutes were what Cole needed most, the Thunder would be ideal.

Injury-plagued, KU-good-guy C Nick Collison, at 250, could only go 20 minutes in a good season (for his riddled body) last year.

Youthful, slight PF Jeff Green, at 6'9" and 236, played 37 minutes.

jaybate 4 years, 4 months ago

Green's big minute rookie season may make the perimeter-happy Thunder hope Cole, at about the same size, can do it, too. But Green, if I recall correctly, played more minutes in college than Cole could handle, and has averaged 34 mpg in three years in the L. There is no reason to think Cole can go 37 minutes, or even 30 minutes, in the NBA for more than a couple games, certainly not for 80 plus.

One high probability is Collie won't play more than 20mpg.

Another high probability is that Green, after averaging 34 mpg for three seasons, will have to be cut back, or get injured. An NBA year equals about 3 human years. Green's body has aged 9 years the last three seasons. Green will almost certainly get injured by mid season, unless he is cut back to 30 mpg, or less.

So: Cole is likely to get 20 minutes backing up Collie at C, or 40 if Collie gets hurt, as he often does.

And Cole might 10 minutes at PF, or 40 at PF, when Green gets hurt as he often does.

Wait! Cole could barely go hard for 20 minutes this past season, even when he played 30 minutes.

Something's gotta give: Cole, or the minutes. :-)

Either way, Cole is going to live NBA minutes, if he can handle them.

But how is Cole going to add 25 on top playing serious minutes in the NBA?

IMHO, Cole missed the opportunity of a life time not coming back to KU to put on 20 up top this summer with Hudy.

No doubt he had some good advice though, and he did have a hard call to make.

Were he to have stayed and added 20, he's knees might have given out on him carrying the extra load during the up coming season and no one in the L would have wanted him till the second round.

On the other hand, going into the L only being able to play hard for about 20 minutes, while weighing only 236, could be a brutal experience. Out on the perimeter, guys bringing knives to gunfights are just made to look bad. Inside, within dunking distance, where huge paychecks are being fought over, and violence is the coin of the realm, knife-fighters get hurt and hurt badly.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 4 months ago

Staying an extra year (10-11) was the wrong move for just about anyone this year. A lockout and collective bargaining change is looming. That changes the whole landsape of things.

jaybate 4 years, 4 months ago

Cole is tough.

Cole has the kind of mental and physical toughness it takes to play in the L.

Cole is just a little bit crazy, and that always helps a big man in the L. Ask Pollard. Hopefully, Pollard has been coaching Cole unofficially on how to make a crazy streak another arrow in his quiver that already includes a sixth sense on shot blocking and a seventh sense on rebounding.

But he needs to add 20 on top and he needs to do it quickly.

Shot blocking is a very annoying thing to NBA players, unless it is performed by a person who has the menacing physical presence to make a pro decide it would be better to have his shot blocked than to have the exrement beaten out of him in a fight.

Take martial arts, too. Start now! He should grow a demonic looking Van Dyke and dye it demonic red if he has to. Maybe add a black mohawk! Or reach back into his tribal cultural legacy and adopt a Viking look, if he's got some Scandinavian blood from Minnesota in his pale veins. The Vikings were as baaaaad as they came.

A cure the apparent Mononucleosis.

Cole basically could not go hard for 30 minutes against wide loads like Tiny Gallon and Dexter, or anyone for that matter his junior year. They tired him out even when he was getting full time double team help. Howard and Bynum and the rest of the NBA centers are orders of magnitude better than D1 fat men like Dexter and Tiny.

Eat your power bars. Get plenty of sleep. Lift like a muthuh. Become the karate kid. with a blood red mohawk, or Viking chic, or the William Wallace look. And enjoy the check.

You've earned the first one already.

The rest of them are going to be an order of magnitude tougher to collect.

But you can do it!!!

Rock Chalk!!

stravinsky 4 years, 4 months ago

Pretty solid assessment from Jaybate. I didn't realize Cole was at 236, last number I think I had seen from him was 245 and, as JB commented, 245 is on the small side when it comes to NBA centers. Adding some bulk would without a doubt help him out (by that, I mean adding some bulk may be straight up necessary).

I still think OKC is a very good opportunity for Cole. However conditioning does seem to be a focus for now -- he never did seem to recover fully from the health issues at the beginning of the year (obviously, he's had some time since then) and the previously discussed weight issues (maybe he can borrow 20 lbs from Sherron?) At the least, I don't think the Thunder would have drafted Cole if they didn't expect him to be able to step in right away. Let's hope that this can work out well for both OKC and for Cole -- I love that he landed on a team that I can stand.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 4 months ago

The 09-10 roster lists him at 245. No reason he couldn't add at least 10 in an off-season. 20 should be realistic if working out is your jo, and you don't need to worry about becoming an AAA.

Workout a lot, and get regular shipments from "Omaha Steaks".

Samer 4 years, 4 months ago

Weirdest use of the word "baptize" (which means "immerse" in ancient Greek) I've ever seen.

Mike Kendall 4 years, 4 months ago

Jaybate be everywhere on this post!!!!!!!!!

Okiedave-- Went to the Oklahoma State Fair in OKC once---had a good time! It was much better than the Kansas State Fair in Hutch. In your comments about Stillwater, I have been to a game at their football stadium against the Jayhawks--of course, KU won that game. The stadium is practically on top of the players--pretty wild. Hey, even went to Eskimo Joe's--you can't knock Joe's, can you?

Lastly, I hardly watch the NBA because college basketball is so much better. However, that could change because I could very well be an Oklahoma City Thunder fan and watch their games. I believe their ticket sales will zoom to the roof because of Cole and all the KU fans and alumni. Rock chalk!

Martin Rosenblum 4 years, 4 months ago

If we could only transfer Sherron's ability to add 10-15 lbs. in a couple of days to Cole, the formula for success would be easy. But, then there is the adding muscle weight vs. cheeseburger weight that is more critical.

Cole could hire Hudy to be his personal trainer for the next few weeks.

Or, maybe Hans and Franz are still around! As Jaybate so eloquently warned, paraphrased in the Hans and Franz vernacular, he needs not to be a girly man when going up against those wide bodies in the League. He needs to "..Pump ..it Up"!

TexasHawk44 4 years, 4 months ago

Jaybate, don't they sell Pepto-Bismol where you live? I would suggest you pick up a Costco size five-gallon bucket and drink it. It may be the only way to cure the flood of B.S. that oozes like a nasty case of diarrhea from your feeble brain... Really, you are one of the biggest jokes I have run across on the internet. And that is saying quite a bit, considering the web is littered with Grade-A donkeys...

jaybate 4 years, 4 months ago

Oh shockeroo! Its Texashawk22.

Q: Are we not men? A: No, we are TexasHawk22.

Duty Now for the Past!

:-)

TexasHawk44 4 years, 4 months ago

Jaybate: thanks for not disappointing me with your brilliant response. As always, your egomaniac idiocy illuminates the the sky like fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Only in our great country could such stupidity be celebrated by other blind donkeys trailing behind the lead Jackass as you aimlessly and hopelessly to the water hole of inane drivel. Congratulations on your supremacy.

If ego and stupidity were counted in inches, you would make the biblical Goliath look like one of Snow White's dwarves.

I am waiting to hear you ridicule my screen name with the wit of a 10-year old. That seems to be your only foil.

justanotherfan 4 years, 4 months ago

I usually avoid criticizing the articles, but this paragraph was ridiculous.

"Mullens, a rookie for Oklahoma City last season, appeared in 14 games for the Thunder and played part of the season in the NBA Developmental League. It’s also known as the D League, or better known as the No D League. Head cases pursuing points, not victories, infect the league. It’s no place to develop, but it’s better than riding the bench and getting overmatched by more developed bodies and minds with NBA experience. Playing for a winning, elite college basketball team benefits a young post player far more than either of those paths."

Being on an NBA roster, or in the D-League is far more helpful for development than playing college basketball, even at a high major school, especially for a post player.

Last year at KU, Cole played only a handful of games against an opposing player that could match both his size and skill level. Playing against 6-8 guys doesn't help him develop. Playing against a slowfooted, uncoordinated 6-11 guy doesn't help him develop.

Remember the Mizzou game, where MU basically relied on 20 footers because Cole was blocking everything inside? Cole looked dominant. However, that didn't help the NBA scouts much because MU only had guys 6-8 or smaller. Cole SHOULD dominate in that situation. Run through all of KU's games. How many times did we see teams that could send out a quality player 6-10 or taller? Less than a third of the time?

Most NBA scouts, off the record anyway, have said that they would rather get a player that isn't quite developed than have them stay in college too long, because it's tough to break the bad habits developed by playing against inferior competition.

Check out this article on Evan Turner, discussing specifically how the 6-7 Turner benefitted by often drawing the other teams SG or SF, who often stood only 6-3 or 6-4. http://thepaintedarea.blogspot.com/2010/06/is-evan-turner-nba-all-star-caliber.html

Basically, a lot of NBA scouts are very down on college talent, even in the major conferences, and even more down on college coaching. They know that more often than not, college coaches will trot out junk defenses to hide players and disguise weaknesses. In the NBA, that doesn't work.

Remember, Adam Morrison and JJ Redick dominated college basketball in 2004. Since then, Redick has developed into a serviceable backup, and Adam Morrison has won two titles by sitting on the bench and applauding Kobe Bryant. And these were (allegedly) the BEST TWO COLLEGE BASKETBALL PLAYERS.

I have said many times, the NBA game is vastly different from the college game, and the jump in talent is HUGE. Small weaknesses like a lack of quickness, lack of size, lack of skill, lack of athleticism that can be masked in college come to the forefront in the NBA.

Eric Schneider 4 years, 3 months ago

People are making too much of the height issue. Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the greatest centers in NBA history was only 6'10". Now, I'm not trying to imply that Cole is going to be anywhere near the player that Olajuwon was. But it's not as big of a hindrance as people are trying to make out. Especially with a wingspan of over 7'5". And no one is expecting him to ever be a dominant center.

OKC plays excellent perimeter defense. They were just missing a physical defensive presence in the middle. Cole can provide that. He is also, offensively, light years ahead of last years shot-blocking center drafted in the lottery. Hasheem Thabeet.

KULA 4 years, 3 months ago

I'll say it again-Cole's gonna be a lot better offensive player in the NBA than college b/c of no zone D and a lot less double teams.

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