Season in Review: Cole Aldrich
By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Statistically Speaking: 46 games played (two starts), 10 points and 14.1 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Contributions: The job of a young NBA backup is never easy. Playing behind decorated veterans only adds another challenge as you are expected to develop while playing sparingly in both pratice and games. But Aldrich, a former lottery pick himself (11th overall in 2010-11), proved to be a perfect fit for the role in his first season in New York.
"The biggest thing is staying ready," he told reporters after setting a career high with 16 rebounds and matching his season high of 13 points in the Knicks' season finale. "You never know when your name's going to be called."
Aldrich epitomized what the Knicks were looking for from a reserve big man. With his length and nose for the ball, coach Mike Woodson developed confidence that the 25-year-old would be able to protect the rim and battle on the boards when his number was called. Cole rewarded his coach's faith by blocking three or more shots five times, despite playing more than 15 minutes in only four games.
Season Highlight: Aldrich saved the best for last, delivering eye-opening performances when given extended minutes after the team had been eliminated from the playoffs.
After pulling down 10 rebounds in a game just once all year, Aldrich dominated the glass in consecutive nights to close out the year with 29 combined boards. Against the Toronto Raptors (and powerful big man Jonas Valanciunas), Cole exploded for 13 points and career highs in rebounds (16) and blocked shots (5), while tying a career best with two steals.
Looking Ahead: After his furious finish to the year, Aldrich will look to carry the momentum forward. With potential free agency looming, his offseason plans are what you'd expect from a player with his consistent approach to the game: "Continue to work," he said. "The summer time is where you get better, so it's going to be a big summer for me again."
Asked to summarize Aldrich's season, his coach praised the young big man for his hard work with the coaching staff. "He's earned the right to be on somebody's ball club," said Woodson.