I’m going to take you way back when I mention these two words: Summer League. It was July, and only the true, die-hard Knicks fans were watching basketball, as numerous “journeymen” competed to become the final bench players on a team… any team! Cole Aldrich was one of those guys, and the former lottery pick was determined to make the Knicks squad. Not only did Aldrich make the cut, but he ended up making an impact on the Knicks in the regular season in nearly every opportunity he was given.
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Aldrich played in 46 of the Knicks’ 82 games this year, scoring 2.0 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game, blocking 0.7 blocks per game, and shooting 54% in his 7.2 minutes per game. Many of those games were just “garbage time” minutes.
Although former Knick coach, Mike Woodson, had a history of not utilizing every player on the bench, when Aldrich got some burn, he helped out the Knicks. He was the stereotypical back-up center – a player who grabs rebounds and plays tough defense.
He didn’t get to play! The Knicks had a few injured big men (Kenyon Martin and Andrea Bargnani both suffered season-ending injuries), but Aldrich never saw minutes as the typical “back-up center.” Although that is likely his ceiling in the NBA, getting a few regular minutes as a bench player would’ve given him the chance to showcase his skills.
Aldrich’s best two games were the final two games of the year against Brooklyn, and Toronto. With New York already eliminated, Woodson let him start, and he didn’t disappoint. He showed what he could do in a regular role, by scoring 14.0 points, snatching 14.5 rebounds, and rejecting 3.0 of his opponent’s shots per game over that last stretch. He played 26 minutes and 40 minutes respectfully in those games.
Back during the 76ers historic losing streak, the Knicks had gone into “garbage-time” a little too early. Aldrich, and the rest of the bench-warmers on the team, almost blew a lead in Philly. The Knicks ended up having to bring back their starters for the final seconds of the game, and squeaked out a win.
On a personal note, I was one of the 12,745 fans in attendance that night. For the majority of the game, the usually loud and passionate Sixer fans were quiet, and generally seemed embarrassed at their team. They entered the game on a 22-game losing streak. When Aldrich and company checked into the game and the Sixer’s made their comeback, it brought life into Wells Fargo Arena. Yeah, that’s right folks, Cole Aldrich gave Philadelphia 76ers fans something to cheer about. That was hard to do this year… bravo!
(B) Cole Aldrich showed off some skills this year in his limited role. If the Knicks don’t sign the now-free agent, there will be a few center-needing teams that will be in discussions with the former Kansas Jayhawk. No, he is not a starting-caliber center, but his ability to play defense and grab rebounds will always leave a spot for him in the league.
Should the Knicks re-sign Cole Aldrich this offseason? Let us know in the comments section below!
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