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Can Cole Aldrich contribute much as a rookie?

Thunder rookie center Cole Aldrich is a tough player who some think might be the missing piece on the Oklahoma City roster.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: October 4, 2010 at 9:41 pm •  Published: October 4, 2010

With Cole Aldrich, everything is simple.

Ask the rookie center from Kansas to dissect his game and he'll deliver a no-frills description that matches the self-effacing style he's expected to bring to the Thunder.

"I'm just a guy who loves to play basketball," he said. "Go out and bang with the guys in the paint, grab rebounds and just block shots. Just do whatever I can do to help the team win."

Teammates and coaches, though, have built a small database of buzz words in characterizing the No. 11 overall pick.

Active. Smart. Tough. Workhorse.

"With what he brings, there are definitely things we can use," said veteran forward and fellow Kansas alum Nick Collison.

How much Aldrich can contribute as a rookie is the question.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks has the luxury of not having to rush Aldrich into action. Oklahoma City has an adequate starting frontcourt returning in center Nenad Krstic and power forward Jeff Green. Their backups from a year ago, Collison and Serge Ibaka, provide a nice change of pace and a boost defensively.

But with Krstic (finger) and Collison (knee) both sidelined with injuries, and the preseason opener looming Wednesday against Charlotte, Aldrich seemingly has an opportunity to carve out a greater role, perhaps even take steps that will lead to a starting job before season's end.

"I don't know the impact he will make," Brooks said, "but I like what he's about. And he plays. He bangs."

The Thunder acquired Aldrich from New Orleans in a draft-night swap because his defensive mentality matches the franchise's desired identity. The organization doesn't expect Aldrich to capture the Rookie of the Year honors, but Aldrich can still make his presence felt in the areas in which he does excel. At 6-11, 245 pounds, Aldrich will be asked to use his frame to eat up space in the paint, set solid screens, gobble up rebounds, reject and alter shots and finish the occasional dump off on the offensive end.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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