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Roster Review | Cole Aldrich
C, 6-11, 250 lbs
60 games, 5 starts, 5.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 59.6 FG%, 71.4 FT%
The Wolves entered the 2016 offseason needing a big who could protect the rim.
And the icing on the cake was that it was a player most Minnesotans are familiar with in former Bloomington-Jefferson star Cole Aldrich.
After bouncing around from Oklahoma City, Houston, Sacramento and New York, Aldrich found his niche last season for a 53-win Los Angeles Clippers team.
Aldrich is a defensive-minded center. He has proof. A scar on his forehead and a removable tooth that he’s not afraid to take out.
The big man ranked first in the NBA in Defensive Box Plus/Minus last season with a 5.8 mark, per Basketball-Reference.
Despite the limited minutes, Aldrich eclipsed double-digit points in nine games, double-digit rebounds in six and three or more blocks in eight.
Aldrich is a hard worker on both ends of the court and does what is asked of him. Effort will never be an issue for the big man. He should fit right in with Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the Wolves.
Top Three Games Of The Season
3.) Jan. 16 vs. Sacramento Kings
In this 110-103 home loss to the Kings, Aldrich started for DeAndre Jordan and played exceptional in nearly 29 minutes. He finished with 19 points, a team-high 10 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists. He shot an efficient 8-for-14 from the field.
2.) April 13 vs. Phoenix Suns
The Clippers had already clinched their playoff spot going into this game, so guys like Jordan, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul took the night off. While the Clippers lost 114-105, Aldrich did his part, finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, one assist and one steal. He was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
1.) April 8 vs. Utah Jazz
Aldrich was a beast in this 102-99 win over the Jazz in Utah. The big man played nearly 40 minutes and finished with 21 points, 18 rebounds, five steals, two assists and one block. That’s a grown-man’s box score. He shot an efficient 10-for-15 from the field. In no surprise, all of his buckets came at the rim.
Top Offseason Objectives
He needs to get Andrew Wiggins, a young star on the Wolves, to forgive him for this filthy block from March 19, 2015.
Some players never come back from that. Chase Budinger was so surprised by the lack of Kansas love that he just panicked and threw up a wide-open air ball.
In all seriousness, the only thing Aldrich really needs to do is connect with his future teammates and the coaching staff. He’s a veteran and his game is what it is. Obviously he’ll be working on his craft day in and day out, but he’s a rim protector who is effective offensively when he’s rolling to the rim. Don’t fix what’s not broken.
Role for 2016-17?
The Wolves went from lacking depth at the post position to having an abundance of it thanks to the signings of Aldrich and Jordan Hill this offseason.
More than likely, Aldrich will come off the bench and play 15 to 20 minutes in a similar role he did last season with the Clippers. He averaged 6.3 fouls per 36 minutes last season, so he probably won’t be given a starter’s plate to scarf down.
Don’t be shocked, though, if Thibodeau starts with Aldrich at the center and Karl-Anthony Towns at the power forward. This could save Towns from a few “cheap” early fouls, while the Wolves would have a solid defender to start, similar to what they had last season with Kevin Garnett.
Obviously, there are still a lot of moving parts here as Garnett has yet to decide if he’ll return for the 2016-17 season.
They Said It…
“You know, you always kind of have it, maybe, in the back of your mind. And you never really know if it would happen, or when it would ever happen. My wife and I just got back from Italy, and we were sitting in a small little town in wine country. And I got a call from Thibs. And we just kind of talked and talked. And I kind of thought in the back of my mind, ‘you know, maybe there is a chance.’ Who knows, it’s still early in free agency, it’s only two days in, and you just don’t know. And then, I talked to my agent another day or two later and the option was there. And we were ecstatic. You know, it’s home for us. I grew up watching the Timberwolves, watching KG in the conference finals. And all those teams that they had when they made that run. It brings a real excitement to me.” – Cole Aldrich on joining his hometown team.