D-League Showcase Profiles: NBA Allocation and Rights-Held Players January 15, 2011 Jonathan Givony
Drafted in the late lottery to one of the deepest and most talented teams in the NBA, Cole Aldrich has spent a good amount of time on assignment in the D-League so far this season. This makes sense when considering the close proximity and relationship Oklahoma City enjoys with its affiliate in Tulsa, a team the Thunder both own and operate.
Aldrich isn't being spoon-fed minutes or touches the way you normally see allocated NBA players in the D-League, as he's averaging less field goal attempts per minute than he did in college and is playing just 27 minutes (of 48) per game. It appears that Tulsa is trying to more closely replicate the role he'll be expected to grow into on Oklahoma City eventually, which is that of a gritty role-player rather than a go-to guy. Aldrich's offensive numbers thus aren't impressive at all relative to other far less talented players in this league at 9 points per contest, as foul trouble and injuries have also held him back somewhat this year.
Largely the same player we profiled not too long ago in college, Aldrich has a bright future in the NBA thanks to his excellent combination of size, length, smarts and toughness. Capable of doing some damage in the post with simple, fundamentally sound post-moves, he does a nice job of passing out of double teams, moving to open spaces in the paint for drop-off passes, and finishing strong when the situation calls for it. He knocks down his free throws at an excellent clip (81% in the D-League), crashes the offensive glass effectively, and keeps mistakes to a minimum.
Defensively, he's a major presence inside the paint with his 7-5 wingspan and excellent body. Nothing about Aldrich's game is particularly flashy and no one really expects him to develop into more than a lunch-pail type role-playing hustle guy. With that said, players in his mold aren't easy to come by, which makes him a good investment for Oklahoma City to work with, especially since they have the ability to speed up his development on their D-League team. [Read Full Article] D-League Showcase Interviews (Part Two) January 15, 2011
[Read Full Article] NBA Draft Media Day Interviews: Wall, Aldrich, Johnson, Patterson, etc June 24, 2010
[Read Full Article] Situational Statistics: This Year’s Center Crop June 16, 2010 Cole Aldrich resembles, in some ways, the solid role-playing he center projects to be at the next level from a situational perspective.
At 9.8 possessions per-game, Aldrich didn’t see too many looks on Kansas’ loaded roster, but his 1.037 PPP overall ranks him well above average in our sample, as do his low 11.9% turnover percentage and 11.9% shots-fouled percentage.
With the ball getting worked around to make sure all of KU’s options got their touches, Aldrich relied on post possessions for his offense. He got nearly 60% of his possessions down low, scoring a third ranked 1.029 PPP in the process. He also turned the ball over at the second lowest rate (8.7%). Clearly, Aldrich’s decisive approach and size were too much for most college big men to handle.
Despite the fact that Kansas removed number of quick hitter plays that afford Aldrich some easy baskets as a junior from their playbook, he finished 82.6% of the shots resulting from basket cuts. Easily the top-ranked finisher in the top-5 at 1.318 PPS, Aldrich’s low usage didn’t afford him the opportunity to put up huge scoring numbers, but he looked solid in a role that very well could be similar to the one he’ll play next season, and could benefit from getting more of his touches as a finisher instead of being forced to create in the post. [Read Full Article] NBA Combine Interviews: Al-Farouq Aminu, Ekpe Udoh, Aldrich, Ed Davis May 23, 2010
A likely top-10 pick last year, Cole Aldrich elected to return for his junior season at Kansas, a move that surprised some considering the obvious risks involved. With the demand for long-armed, mobile 7-foot centers with strong rebounding and defensive skills always being extremely high, though, Aldrich’s margin for error was obviously much greater than that of a prospect like Willie Warren or Craig Brackins, who have seen their decisions back-fire in a major way.
From a statistical standpoint, it’s somewhat troubling to see the lack of progress Aldrich has made this past season. His numbers are down across the board, even when adjusting for the fact that he’s playing 3 minutes less per game. Aldrich is scoring significantly less (16.3 per-40 pace adjusted compared to 19.9 last season), grabbing fewer rebounds, is substantially less efficient (converting 55% of his 2-pointers compared with 60% last season) and has seen his free throw percentage take a dramatic hit (from 79% to 68%).
The only area he’s improved in significantly is in his shot-blocking, as he’s rejecting 5.2 blocks per-40p this season, compared with 3.6 last season. NBA teams always want to see young big men improving year by year, and the fact that he doesn’t appear to have done that is something that will have to research more deeply and draw their own conclusions about.
The prevailing opinion amongst NBA scouts has always been that Aldrich is a likely role-player at the next level—a player who projects as a significant presence in the paint defensively and on the glass, but can’t be expected to score much more than what his guards are able to create for him around the basket.
His age and the production he achieved as a sophomore left at least a glimmer of hope that he can develop into a bit more than that, though, which is what you would hope from a potential top-5 pick. His lack of improvement as a junior may have closed the door on that optimism somewhat in the minds of many decision makers, as it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that he’s taken a step backwards this year.
Offensively, Aldrich’s limitations remain fairly glaring, something that has only been highlighted by the new weapons (mainly Xavier Henry, Marcus Morris) that have emerged for Kansas this season, and are often far more aggressive than him.
Aldrich is the type of player who is best suited for having shots created for him, something that has happened with far less regularity this season according to the data we have at our disposal. He struggles to do much of anything if unable to establish position deep inside the paint, looking fairly mechanical with his movements at times and downright uncomfortable in others. He has a basic spin-move, a raw drop-step and a simple jump-hook in his arsenal, but lacks fluidity in his offensive game, is limited with his left hand and tends to just throw the ball up on the rim at times, hoping for the best.
Aldrich sets terrific screens and is a tremendous finisher around the paint in pick and roll situations and off simple drive and dish plays with his excellent length and solid leaping ability, but he doesn’t seem to be getting quite as many good looks around the rim as he did last season. He’s instead often being forced to create shots on his own in one on situations, which is clearly not his strength, as he doesn’t know how to use his body quite as well as you might hope at this stage, and he possesses just average touch and footwork.
Aldrich has yet to hit the 20-point mark in a single game this year at this point, and has been largely mediocre at times in Big 12 conference play. He doesn’t dominate even extremely weak opposition at the college level, which leaves many questions marks about how much of a factor he’ll be on the offensive end in the NBA. Watching his film, it seems like he lost a bit of confidence at some point in the season, as it doesn’t really seem like he always wants the ball.
The place where Aldrich may have taken the biggest step back is with his shooting. Last year he attempted 57 jump-shots, making nearly 50% of his attempts from mid-range, while this year he’s attempted just 21, hitting about 35% of his attempts.
Aldrich has always sported very unorthodox shooting mechanics, as the violent slingshot motion he shows, cocking ball way behind his back, was never going to be the optimal to get his shot off. While this didn’t affect his effectiveness as a jump-shooter last year, it’s really been a factor this year. His shooting woes have translated to the free throw line as well, where he’s shooting 11% worse (from 79% to 68%) than he did last season. While no one will be drafting Aldrich for his jump-shooting ability, the fact that he could make defenses work a bit more by forcing them to respect his mid-range jumper was an added bonus that he can no longer claim as a part of his repertoire.
As a defender and rebounder is where Aldrich continues to shine as a highly effective and NBA-ready big man prospect, one who could likely already be seeing minutes in most teams’ frontcourt. He ranks as the 5th best rebounding prospect in college basketball on a per-minute basis, at over 14 per-40 pace adjusted, similar to last year. His size and length allows him to go well out of his area at times for offensive rebounds, and he does a fine job boxing out on the defensive glass as well, something that should translate very effectively to the NBA.
Defensively, Aldrich has terrific lower body strength which renders him extremely difficult to back down in the post. This makes him a very useful player to counter against the type of old-school back to the basket centers (Shaq, Yao, Marc Gasol, etc) that are still found in today’s NBA, something that many teams just don’t have. He uses his outstanding wingspan very effectively to contest shots in the paint, being very fundamentally sound in the way he gets his long arms right in his defender’s face to deny good looks at the basket.
Aldrich is a much better pick and roll defender than you might expect relative to most centers in his mold, as he does a tremendous job of stepping out, hedging screens and then recovering effectively, showing nice timing, solid effort and good fundamentals in the process. NBA coaches will love this part of his game, as it’s the thing that most big men tend to struggle with the most, especially early on in their careers. His lack of lateral quickness will get exposed from time to time in one on one situations, especially when forced to switch on the perimeter, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue against most NBA centers.
Perhaps Aldrich’s biggest asset defensively revolves around his shot-blocking ability, where he yet again ranks in the top 5 amongst draft prospects, thanks to his terrific length and timing. He’s the type of shot-blocker who stays out of foul trouble, rarely goal-tends and usually keeps balls in-bounds on top of that, often showing the wherewithal to tip it to a teammate and ignite the fast break, which is a big plus.
While some may balk at using an extremely high pick on a player who projects as a very effective defender and rebounder and limited scorer, big men with Aldrich’s physical tools are very difficult to come by. Even though his upside may not be off the charts, he doesn’t have very much downside either, as you pretty much know what you’re getting here, which is an excellent all-around role-player, and an Academic All-American on top of that. A good NCAA tournament showing will help Aldrich enter the draft process with some strong momentum behind him, but teams should be comfortable at this point with the type of prospect he is. [Read Full Article] LeBron James Skills Academy Player Profiles July 13, 2009 -Cole Aldrich- Similarly to the way he played at the Adidas Nations Camp in Dallas last August, Aldrich again did very little to justify his status as a potential top-5 draft pick. It’s likely that he’s just not the type of player that stands out in these settings, as he seems to look very uncomfortable for the most part outside of Kansas’ system. Aldrich’s skill-level offensively looked very limited in the drills and five on five action, as he has average footwork and touch around the rim and appears pretty mechanical when trying to create his own shot. Defensively his terrific frame and freakish length allows him to be quite a factor when he puts his mind to it, but he often looked tentative and lethargic trying to make his presence felt. [Read Full Article] NCAA Tournament Performers, 3/31/09- Part One March 31, 2009 Since we last wrote about him in December, Cole Aldrich has continued with his excellent sophomore season, putting up strong numbers throughout conference play and coming up big for his team in all three of their NCAA tournament games, though it wasn’t enough to push them past the Sweet Sixteen.
Looking at the season as a whole, seeing Aldrich’s production remain strong through conference play, there is a lot to be said for how much he improved in just one season, taking significant steps in multiple areas of his game, now establishing himself as one of the best big men in college basketball after playing just 8 minutes per game as a freshman.
The first area where Aldrich’s improvement can be seen is with his jump shot, which now has range out to 18 feet and is quite reliable for a big man. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Aldrich hit 24 of his 43 jump shot attempts on the year, mostly of the spot-up variety, many coming in pick-and-pop situations. Aldrich sports an extremely unorthodox catapult-like release where he cocks the ball from way behind his head before throwing it towards the rim, though he shows very good accuracy on his shot, as evidenced by his 79% FT%, a ten-point improvement from a season earlier.
While he has extremely strange shooting mechanics, and the sample size of his jump-shots leaves something to be desired, Aldrich shouldn’t have many long-term issues, as his motion is consistent, his release of adequate speed, and his shot is basically unblockable, unless you’re standing behind him. While Aldrich’s aim is quite good, his touch isn’t great on his arm-heavy shot, as he’s prone to a lot of north and south misses, something that may always be an issue. Still, given his improvement in just one season, this is something that he should be able to show more progress with as he puts in more and more repetition with his mechanics. It’s also worth noting that with his mechanics, Aldrich will likely have trouble adjusting to shooting off the dribble or on the move in general, but that’s not something many centers are expected or able to do in the NBA anyway.
Moving onto his post game, Aldrich has also made notable improvements there this season, showing great ability to establish deep position, either by backing his man down or taking advantage when players try to foolishly front him. When fronted, Aldrich uses his excellent hands and size to catch and finish with power at the rim. When backing his man down, Aldrich usually gets quite deep in the paint, but relies on a finesse game more so than power, mostly preferring hook shots and turnaround jumpers, the latter of which he has varying success with. Aldrich’s shooting mechanics are prone to breakdowns when on the move, and this can be seen with his turnaround jumper from the low block, or when he catches on a flash in the middle of the lane.
While Aldrich has a decent repertoire of post moves, his polish could still use plenty of work, as his footwork looks crude at times, though usually enough to get the job done with his mobility and range. As a finisher, Aldrich shows good body control and takes excellent advantage of his length and mobility to get up some tough reverse opportunities, but his touch around the rim could still use some work. Also, while Aldrich did a good job of adding muscle this offseason, he could still use some more lower body strength, something that would allow him to power up more easily at the rim, which would let him rely less on his finesse game and better take advantage of his size. Aldrich isn’t likely to ever develop into a top offensive option in the NBA, as he just isn’t all that skilled, but he shows enough potential in this area to leave plenty of room for optimism.
On the defensive end, Aldrich plays a physical style in the post, bodying up his man while keeping his arms outstretched, being pretty effective despite his underdeveloped technique, which allows opposing bigs to back him down when combined with his high center of gravity. Aldrich’s lateral quickness is adequate for his size, and he shows good mobility on pick-and-roll plays, even if his decision-making isn’t always great. He shouldn’t have a problem sticking with most fives in the NBA, though continuing to improve his fundamentals is important. Where Aldrich really shines, though, is on the boards, ranking 5th in our database in rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, taking advantage of his size, tremendous length, and hands, something that should translate well to the next level. He’s also a productive shot-blocker for that reason, as he showed against Dayton by collecting a whopping 10 blocks.
It’s still up in the air whether Aldrich will test the draft waters this year, but if he does, he should be firmly in lottery discussions right off the bat. Given his prototypical size, tremendous wingspan, solid athleticism, high motor, the learning curve he’s shown, and the fact that he already does a few things at an NBA level despite being very early in his development, teams could become quite enamored with his potential, and he could quite easily creep into the single digits. [Read Full Article] NCAA Weekly Performers, 12/28/08 December 28, 2008 In September, we rated Kansas center Cole Aldrich as one of the top five returning Big 12 prospects and, as of this week, he is certainly living up to those high expectations. After a freshman campaign full of potential, Aldrich returned in fine form, thus far posting career high averages in every statistical category alongside of efficiency numbers that include a 33.3 PER that ranks 18th among players in our database, and the 12th best rebounding rate. Although his team has hit some rough patches, particularly in losses against Massachusetts, Arizona, and Syracuse, Aldrich has put his many off-season improvements on display and shown why he is considered by many to be a sure-fire NBA player when he decides the team is right.
From an NBA perspective, Aldrich certainly looks the part, standing 6’11 with a great wingspan and wide shoulders. It looks as though he added a good amount of muscle in the offseason, an improvement that speaks to one of our most significant concerns coming into this season. He is still an incredible athlete, possessing neither elite leaping ability nor lateral quickness, but for his size he is certainly a mobile player who clearly has ample physical tools to play in the NBA. He looks far more comfortable in Kansas’ offensive and defensive sets, and is learning how to use his size to be productive on a nightly basis.
Offensively, Aldrich looks much more comfortable this season and his bump in consistency and efficiency have been a testament to his offseason work. Sporting a very solid 59% shooting percentage from the field, he made strides this year to diversify his offensive repertoire, showing range out to 18-feet and a variety of moves in the post, including a trusty turnaround jumpshot and a baby hook off of the dribble. In addition, Aldrich is doing a much better job of getting open in the post, using his body and his soft hands to establish position under the basket. Once he receives the ball in the deep post, he tends to either score, get his own rebound should he miss, or get to the line. His 6.4 free throw attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted is a fairly solid rate. Similarly, the 82% he shoots from the line is awfully impressive, showing the potential he displays on his jump-shot down the road, as awkward as his behind the head, sling-shot mechanics might look.
Aldrich’s potential as a jump-shooter also signals his biggest problem at this stage: his propensity to avoid contact, choosing to fall away from the basket or take a spot-up jump-shot rather than bang in the post. A player with Aldrich’s body should attack the basket at a much greater rate than he currently does. His handle also still has a long way to go, which hurts him in half court situations, as he struggles to create his own shot. One of the most improved areas of Aldrich’s game, however, is his decision making. His court sense seems to have improved a lot last year, which is evidenced in his assist to turnover ratio. Last year, his assist to turnover ratio was 0.24; this year, it is a much better 0.94.
Defensively, Aldrich is showing improvements in terms of his awareness and working on limiting his fouls. Per 40 minutes pace adjusted, he is only averaging 3.8 personal fouls per game, and watching him on film, he looks much better in Kansas’s defensive rotations. His gaudy shot blocking numbers are impressive and a testament to his timing and awareness, rather than his athleticism. The most significant area of concern in Aldrich’s defensive game is his lack of elite lateral quickness. He has trouble guarding perimeter oriented big men and has trouble guarding quicker players off of the dribble. Both situations often result in fouls.
His bread and butter, however, is his rebounding ability, which has taken off this season. Averaging 9.9 rebounds per game and 14.3 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, Aldrich uses his superb sense of timing and developing awareness, not to mention his soft hands, to always grab rebounds that fall near him on both ends of the floor. He might not be quite as productive at the next level, but there is no reason to think that he can’t be a very good rebounder as a professional.
There is quite a bit more hype surrounding Cole Aldrich this year, and much of it is justified. He looks much better this season and is one of the most dominant big men in the Big 12. While much of his flaws have to do his average skill-level and toughness, Aldrich must make sure to be aggressive and constantly attack the basket on the offensive end. Should Aldrich continue to play at a high level this season and considering the relative lack of true post players in this year’s draft class, there is no reason to think that he can’t be a top-20 pick. The question is whether he is better served gaining experience (something that he sorely lacks) through consistent playing time at the collegiate level, something that may warrant returning for another year of high-level seasoning at Kansas. [Read Full Article] Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12 (Part One: #1-5) September 2, 2008 The Kansas Jayhawks will likely be hard pressed to repeat as national champions this season, but any success they see in the Big 12 this year will have to come in large part from their rising frontcourt presence Cole Aldrich. The former McDonald’s All-American saw limited action due to a stacked roster, but his numbers adjusted for forty minutes were fantastic, placing him second amongst freshman in rebounds and third in blocks.
Physically, there is a lot to like about Aldrich. At 6’11” and 250 pounds he has a sturdy enough frame to handle the rigors of playing in the paint, and his size is ideal for a modern day NBA center. To add intrigue to the picture, he also owns an excellent wingspan. He certainly needs to get stronger if he wants to be a player who primarily plays with his back to the basket, but he should be able to handle about as much weight as he needs to as his body naturally fills out in time. He shows pretty good agility for a player of his size as well, running the floor well and being capable of getting to where he needs to on the floor. Aldrich doesn’t show incredible leaping ability, which could hinder him against more athletic big men, but he is a pretty solid athlete considering his size.
At this point, Aldrich primarily gets his touches within eight feet of the basket. He does an excellent job of getting position on defenders with his body, but lacks the footwork and polish at this point to capitalize on many of his post touches. He can finish around the rim if given space to operate, but tends to struggle trying to create anything advanced for himself. Aldrich primarily goes to one of two moves: a baby hook shot or a turn-around jumper. Both of these look promising thanks to his soft touch, but he has a tendency to rush these moves. Often he will turn and shoot before he is square to the hoop, hindering his shooting percentage (which was still a respectable 51.8%).
Aldrich hasn’t yet developed any sort of power move to the basket. While his finesse game is solid, he runs into problems against bigger post players who force him to fade away on his jump shot. Becoming stronger and more aggressive going to the rim would make Aldrich immensely more valuable on the offensive end of the floor, and just getting more repetitions would probably help him avoid take some of the bad shots he tends to settle for at times. Right now, he relies too heavily on his physical tools to get the job done against smaller players. In the NBA, that obviously won’t fly.
The rest of Aldrich’s game is underdeveloped and based more on hustle than actual ability. He gets a lot of easy buckets thanks to teammates driving and drawing additional defenders away from the hoop. The offensive glass is also a big source of points for Aldrich, and he seems to give tremendous effort on both ends of the floor on the boards, aided obviously by his excellent size and length. Often times during his freshman campaign it was common place to see Aldrich coming away with several rebounds on one series in addition to a put back, thanks to his hustle.
He moves well off the ball, often screening for teammates away from the paint, and will on rare occasion step out for a mid range jumper. While he shows decent touch, his shooting mechanics are not very attractive. When he is forced to catch and shoot he short arms the ball; but when he has time to set up, his shot becomes long and over exaggerated. He moves well up and down the floor in transition, but has yet to show us any real ability to put the ball on the floor in any scenario.
Defensively, there is a lot to like about Aldrich. He shows a great knack for timing when contesting shots; he averaged nearly a block per game despite getting just eight minutes of playing time. Aldrich knows how to body up against opponents to keep them from easily getting to the rim, but could still stand to get stronger in his upper body to be even more effective. Above all, Aldrich is a solid defender who knows how to make the most of his abilities. He hedges adequately on screens and is a solid help defender. Foul trouble may be an issue for him due to his average lateral quickness and occasional over-exuberance, but in time he should be able to work out the kinks and become very adequate on this end of the floor.
It’s a pretty safe bet to say that the NBA will be in the cards for Aldrich eventually, the only question is how soon that will come. He a big, long and relatively athletic big man who can rebound the ball effectively and be a presence inside as a shot-blocker. While not the smartest player in the world at this point, Aldrich should be able to get the playing time he needs now to learn how to do more than just overpower opponents with his physical tools. [Read Full Article] Roundball Classic: Game Player Breakdowns April 5, 2007 Aldrich struggled a bit offensively in the Roundball after having a couple of great practice sessions less then a week earlier at the McDonald’s game. He never really seemed to get in the rhythm of the game scoring, but did leave a few bright spots for Jayhawk fans. First of all, he threw about 6 or 7 gorgeous passes that most seven footers aren’t supposed to be able to throw. He did an incredible job of passing out of the double team, while also getting the fast break started with his excellent outlet passes. Aldrich was tough on the defensive end, finishing as one of the game’s leading rebounders while also exhibiting excellent timing on the defensive end as far as blocking shots were concerned. Although he feels that he is the “missing piece” to KU winning a national championship, we won’t go quite that far, but we do feel that he will be a solid contributor next season in Lawrence. [Read Full Article] McDonald's All America Game Practices: Day Two March 27, 2007 Aldrich continued his hot streak from day one, as nearly everything he put up somehow managed to find its way through the net. He hit two three pointers, leaving Kevin Love openly shaking his head in disbelief. The Minnesota prep star ran the floor well and finished well inside, playing with a passion that was non-existent for so many stretches of time on the AAU circuit. It will be interesting to see if Cole is able to keep it up for the remainder of the week and continue to live up to the outstanding potential that he has. [Read Full Article] McDonald's All America Game Practices: Day One March 26, 2007 Aldrich was one of the bigger surprises on day one, seemingly converting at least 80% of the shots that he put up from the field. He boasts a soft touch inside, while also knocking down multiple 15-18 foot jump shots on the day. The Minnesota native finished some surprisingly athletic conversions inside, given his immense size. If he is able to continue playing like this, he will certainly be able to help the Jayhawks out next year as a freshman, given the possibility of them losing Julian Wright and/or Darrell Arthur to the NBA. [Read Full Article]