Prospect Profiles: Cole Aldrich

05/23/2010 4:32 PM - 

Contributed by Jamaal Gilbert

In today’s NBA, it’s hard to find a traditional big man. You know the type… rebounds, blocks, can score with his back to the basket. Fundamentally sound. You can probably count the number of guys like that on two hands. But in Cole Aldrich, you get exactly that: a tough, rugged defender who loves to dunk in people’s faces and swat shots by the barrelful. A lot of scouts and critics were surprised to see Aldrich head back to Kansas for his junior season based on what many thought was a dominant sophomore campaign. But all that did was solidify most everything those same critics thought about him in the first place. And since there’s a lot to dig into, let’s get started.

What we like:

Aldrich, defensively, is a coach’s dream. Using his strong lower body, he can stick with some of the more brutish big men the league has to offer. You won’t find the likes of Carlos Boozer and others abusing this guy and pushing him around down low. Aldrich has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to hold his ground and not be muscled into awkward, non-fortuitous situations under the basket. And that bodes well not only for forcing tough shot attempts, but gaining really excellent rebounding position. But don’t paint him as a post defender alone, as Aldrich has time and again been able to defend the pick-and-roll successfully. His timing and footwork extend well beyond his years, which – of course – is delightful for coaches.
And while we’re talking defense, it’d be a crime not to mention Aldrich’s high-quality shot-blocking ability. He ranked in the top five yet again in blocks-per-40 minutes with 5.2 a game. Per game, he averaged 3.5, which in and of itself is a pretty gaudy number. So let it be known, this guy will return to sender often.
I’m a little dubious on his offensive potential, but in watching highlight reels, game film and reading a few other analysts’ review, it seems like there’s some reason to be hopeful. For one, Aldrich didn’t use his jump shot nearly as much in 2009-10, but it’s still there. He has range from 15-18 feet, the closer the better. And when he gets good post position, a hook shot or baby jumper are his weapons of choice. Not a lot of ball fakes or creativity yet, but that can develop with time. As far as finishing around the basket, Aldrich is known for his authoritative dunks and simple ability to put the ball in the basket in traffic. All told, he’s an able, aggressive finisher.

What we don’t like:
The bad things about Aldrich are the ones you don’t want to hear about any big man: Lack of lateral quickness, lack of any kind of offensive repertoire and weird/inconsistent shooting mechanics. Yuck, right? Those are exactly the same kinds of things people said about Joel Przybilla. And that’s exactly what NBA execs are hoping isn’t the case.
But the fact remains that offensively, there’s a good chance Aldrich will struggle to find his way. An inconsistent jump shot and few post moves mean defenders will basically be able to goad him into poor shots, limiting him to hustle buckets and scoring on plays guards make. Unfortunately, that’s not good enough in the NBA… you have to be able to create your own shot, and Aldrich lacks both the athleticism and ability to do so. One would hope with a lot of work, he can develop some one-on-one post ability and increase the proficiency of his face-up shooting.
Not a whole lot to say about his defense, which is considered his area of expertise, and an overwhelming strength.

Fantasy prospects:
For Aldrich, it all depends on which team drafts him. It’s been said that he’s a lottery pick, so whichever team gets him will probably need his services down low. And if he gets minutes, he’ll deliver bunches of rebounds and blocks, because that’s simply what he does. But if for some reason Aldrich falls to a contender where he’ll fall into some kind of rotation, fantasy production could be pretty sparse. NBA coaches will love him for his defensive contribution (as will you), but if he can’t score, his minutes won’t exceed 15-17 on a team with established power forwards and centers.
As far as a baseline for production on a team who’s committed to giving him minutes, I could see Aldrich putting up 8-10 points and 7-9 rebounds a night with around two blocks a game. He most resembles someone like Kendrick Perkins, and that’s quite a lot of value with your late-round pick.


  1. Mike Gallagher says:

    Totally agree. If he goes to Detroit, Golden State, Utah (sans Boozer), or New Orleans, then I think he could be worth a draft pick in all leagues. 25-30 MPG isn’t really a stretch with any of those teams and he should be able to hit those stats you said in the last paragraph. Great stuff.

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