- Chris Palmer, ESPN the Magazine
In this space we'll break down the best individual matchup of the week to see who's the better player. But toss out career accomplishments or potential. This is about ability -- strengths, weaknesses, intangibles -- and who gives his team the best chance to win. It's about the only thing that matters when you step on the court on any given night -- who's better right now.
They may never be one-name superstars, but LaMarcus Aldridge and Al Horford are among a small handful of the best power forwards in the league. While Horford plugs perfectly into Atlanta's scheme as a do-it-all complement to Joe Johnson, Aldridge has exceeded expectations after being thrust into the role as the Blazers' go-to star.
Despite a shining résumé Horford isn't mentioned with the game's elite and, residing in a Western Conference crowded with stars, the oft-overlooked Aldridge has been outplaying more heralded opponents all season. Aldridge has given defenses fits with his length and shooting touch while Horford plugs away with no-frills consistency.
So now two soft-spoken, versatile bangers go head-to-head. Both have their teams in the middle of heated playoff races. Horford is the owner of two All-Star appearances. Aldridge has none. But who's actually better?
1hMichael C. Wright