Popovich admits 'over-coaching' Aldridge
Darren Carroll / National Basketball Association / Getty

LaMarcus Aldridge is the reason why the San Antonio Spurs have kept pace with the other elite teams in the West in the absence of Kawhi Leonard.

Aldridge looks comfortable for the first time in three seasons as a Spur. He's posting the highest true shooting percentage of his career while also nearing career-best marks in scoring (22.7), 3-point shooting (38.1), and offensive rebounding (3.3).

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich chalks up the improvement to allowing Aldridge more freedom.

“We broke bread a few times, talked about it, laughed about it, discussed what we thought needed to happen, and frankly 95 percent of it fell on me because I made an error in trying to change him too much," Popovich told Shaun Powell of NBA.com.

"That might sound odd, but he’d been in the league nine years and there’s one way he plays on the offensive end and feels comfortable with. I tried to turn him into Jack Sikma - told him I was going to teach you how to play on the elbow, go on the wing, face up. It was confusing for him. It really didn’t fit his style of play. I was guilty of over-coaching in a sense."

Popovich said they came to an agreement: Aldridge wouldn't get any breaks in terms of his defensive accountability, but the coach would let the veteran loose at the other end of the floor.

"'On offense, I don’t even want to talk to you. When they double you, kick it. Other than that, you be LaMarcus Aldridge,"" Popovich recounted. "You see the result right now. He's happy, confident and kicking everybody’s butt."

Aldridge is producing the way the Spurs envisioned when they signed him in 2015, and his strong play has even repaired his image among fans who weren't quite satisfied with his performance relative to his reputation. His coach is impressed too - and grateful.

"We'd be in the toilet if it wasn't for L.A.," Popovich said.

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Popovich admits 'over-coaching' Aldridge
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