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LaMarcus Aldridge embraces leadership role on San Antonio Spurs

* Tonight on NBA TV: Mavericks vs. Spurs (8 ET)

What looks like pressure to some looks like an opportunity to others. For San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, playing without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker early on this season hasn’t been a burden — it has energized him. So while he’s glad to see Parker on the cusp of making his season debut tonight against Dallas, it won’t change his focus.

Aldridge has been the Spurs’ catalyst this season, with both Leonard and Parker yet to play this season while nursing quadriceps injuries. His struggles from the playoffs last season are in the past. Right now, this is basically his team. And it’s a responsibility Aldridge relishes, as Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News explains:

“It’s not a burden,” Aldridge said. “I just go play. That’s what I do. I try to be a leader and try to (generate) offense and make guys better.”

In his return to the form that landed him in five consecutive All-Star games from 2012-16, Aldridge is averaging

21.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 blocks in 32.9 minutes while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.

Six times this season, Aldridge has scored 25 or more points, including a season-high 32 in a Nov. 14 win over the Dallas Mavericks, who the Spurs host today.

“He’s been our most consistent player,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Aldridge. “His effort level every night has been off the charts. He’s producing on both ends of the court. He’s been a leader for us, helping out all the new guys and the young guys with the system. He’s been spectacular.”