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Aldridge vs. Big Baby: No Contest

After LSU's Glen "Big Baby" Davis muscled Texas' Lamarcus Aldridge for forty minutes, knocking the Horns from the tournament, the speculation immediately started. At first it was just a few whispers, but over the last few days, the commentary has grown appreciably to a shockingly high pitch.

Lamarcus Aldridge will be a bust in the pros.

Glen Davis is the better pro prospect.

I wouldn't touch Aldridge with a first round pick.

Surprised? I certainly am. It's not just know-nothings who are murmuring about the implications of Aldridge's 2-for-14 bomb on the national stage. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Damien Pierce, in Washington DC to cover the Regional Final, told me over dinner that he saw Stromile Swift all over again in Aldridge. Pierce has seen enough basketball to qualify as a voice of reason, and while I conceded that Aldridge (like any prospect) was no lock to become an All Star, or even a starter, I vehemently objected when he took the discussion one step further, saying that LSU's Davis was clearly the better prospect.

The first part of my argument was echoed by Ian over at Sexy-Results!:

Frankly, I'm not sure what to make of Big Baby Davis' pro prospects. You have to root for the guy, but at the top of my head, the precedents are people like Oliver Miller and Tractor Traylor. If he had a few more inches, we might even have to go into Benoit Benjamin territory. Not too many guys with that kind of girth play under the rim, but word is, he's trying to slim down even further.

Ian's right, of course. The history of players with Davis' build is pretty bad in the pros, and I'll take Ian's thoughts a step further. Even if Davis manages to shed some more weight, who does he become? Corliss Williamson? I mean, really, what's the upside here? Davis, like these other guys, were great college forwards that thrived on their vast advantage in weight and strength to muscle around their collegiate competitors. They make for tremendous college players, but when they get to the NBA, their weight and strength advantages disappear, or wind up hurting them, as they eat themselves out of the league.

(Parenthetically, this is why PJ Tucker a) sucked against LSU and b) won't make a very good pro. His strengths that make him a great collegiate player are nullified in the NBA.)

Further, the proper comp for Lamarcus Aldridge is not super-athlete/no-hoops skills Stromile Swift. It's Chris Bosh. Aldridge, while clearly several years from being NBA-ready in terms of body size, is a ridiculously skilled basketball player. Give him three years in the NBA, with some serious strength and conditioning work, and you've got yourself a hell of a ballplayer. Aldridge's upside might be somewhere between Bosh and Tim Duncan. His downside is, what, Chris Mihm? Even he (the rat bastard) is still starting in the league, however disappointing he's been relative to expectations.

There's a case to be made for Aldridge spending another year in college. I think he should, and hope he does. But all the talk about Aldridge's prospectdom being in the toilet because an overweight collegiate forward with limited NBA prospects muscled him around is just garbage.