How LaMarcus Aldridge finds rebounds
In case you were wondering, LaMarcus Aldridge (6-foot-10, 240 pounds) is the 91st-best rebounder in the league in terms of rebound rate. You might think that because he's enormous, athletic, strong and plays power forward for a good team he'd be great at rebounding, but you'd be wrong.
And yet, because he plays nearly 39 minutes per game, he manages to grab enough boards to carry some value in that category. More than some value, actually. Aldridge's most valuable category is rebounds. That's because rebounds are in demand, and as long as he's playing 39 minutes a night he can get away with being the 91st-best rebounder in the league and still be one of the most important rebounders on your fantasy team.
Aldridge, it should be noted, grabbed 10 rebounds for the Portland Trail Blazers in their narrow home win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. That it took him 41 minutes to grab those 10 rebounds matters less (in fantasy) than that Greg Oden will not play another game this season. That second fact is the reason Aldridge will continue to play 40 minutes per game for the foreseeable future and continue to rack up decent fantasy numbers, even though his per-minute numbers are fairly pedestrian and normal.
Even more important, perhaps, than Aldridge's output was that, in place of Brandon Roy, Wesley Matthews played 40 minutes for the Blazers and finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and good peripheral stats. Matthews is a good player, and if Roy does end up missing significant time long term this season Matthews is going to be a great fantasy player for quite a while. Al-Farouq Aminu continues to post decent stats in his extended playing time as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers' much-maligned starting five. Aminu is definitely not a sure-thing quite yet, but he's good enough that he should start making his way onto fantasy rosters based on the minutes he's getting, especially after he posted 12 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals against the Indiana Pacers on a night he didn't even play particularly well. Considering that the Orlando Magic had a 30-point lead on the Phoenix Suns at the end of three quarters, I'd say defense won out over offense in their Thursday night matchup. Perhaps most significantly, we learned that Goran Dragic might not be a first-teamer quite yet, after he put up four assists to six turnovers against the Magic's stout defense.
Interestingly, the New York Knicks-Golden State Warriors matchup Friday should not be the free-for-all it has historically been. Both teams are in the top half of the league in terms of defensive efficiency, and there will be other, far more potent, matchups on the docket. Instead, the matchups I will be looking at for fantasy promise are the Houston Rockets at the Toronto Raptors and the New Jersey Nets at the Sacramento Kings. In both cases, I would play anyone I had on my roster from any of those four teams, because if you don't now you never will. You might think Kevin Love will struggle against the Los Angeles Lakers' front line, but I'm guessing the opposite happens. The Lakers are a good rebounding team, but they tend to struggle on the defensive glass, which is Love's specialty. I don't know if the Minnesota Timberwolves will win, but another big rebounding night for Love won't be a surprise.