Lamarcus Aldridge is in his third season with the San Antonio Spurs. It is well known that Aldridge has not had an easy time in San Antonio. After nine seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, the 6 ft 11 in power forward/center arrived as the big superstar signing in the summer of 2015. Aldridge was coming off possibly his best statistical season as he averaged 23.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists with the Blazers. And a season earlier he had led the Blazers to a stunning win over James Harden and Dwight Howard's Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.

This was a historical win as it was the first time in 14 years that the Blazers had advanced past the first round.

Aldridge was a solid All-Star and had decided to part ways with the up-and-coming phenom that was Damian Lillard with hopes of finally making a championship run with a strong title contender. The Spurs won the free agency battle and acquired the services of the 30-year-old. They had apparently gotten a reliable star that could replace Tim Duncan, who would go on to retire a year later. But no, Aldridge has disappointed so far.

Aldridge disappoints

Aldridge has failed to meet expectations. He has averaged 18 points and 17.3 points in his two seasons with the Spurs, and this last one is his fewest points since his rookie season.The Spurs are not a regular season team but rather a playoff team; that is where they belong and what they wait for every year.

Thus, Aldridge was expected to shine the most when it counted most.

While he recorded good numbers against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round of the 2016 NBA playoffs, he was unable to lift his team on his back and lead it to victory. Last season's playoffs truly hurt Aldridge's image as he was nowhere to be found against the Golden State Warriors in the Conference Finals.

Once Kawhi Leonard went down with the ankle injury, Spurs fans looked for Aldridge to step up and help the team at least challenge the Warriors. He averaged a poor 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game.

Aldridge's extension and Pop's mea culpa

There was talk around media about the possibility of the Spurs trading Aldridge this off-season.

Aldridge seemed unhappy in San Antonio and Gregg Popovich openly demanded more from his star. And with enticing players in the market like Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving, the Spurs were believed to be ready to go in a different direction. However, no big name player arrived in the off-season. Instead, LaMarcus Aldridge, 32, signed a three-year $72 million extension with the Spurs. Against all odds, both sides looked to extend their relationship. Popovich has certainly proved his confidence in Aldridge.

Popovich spoke about Aldridge and surprisingly admitted to some of his wrongdoings whilst coaching him these two years. “He just didn’t feel comfortable and it’s 98.75 percent on me, and whatever is left because I can’t subtract that well,” Popovich said before the Spurs played in their season opener.

“I tried to change him.” Now we understand that Popovich should also be blamed for Aldridge's mediocre performances.

Popovich is exaggeratedly obsessed with putting his system first and his players' needs second. Spurs fans can hope now that Pop will also attempt to adapt to Aldridge's skill set in order to help him shine and consequently help the team win more. But most of the blame should still be placed on Aldridge because, no matter what the system is, a great player finds a way to be aggressive, outplay his opponents, and help his teammates.

Aldridge's last bullet

At age 32, this could be Aldridge's last chance to have an exceptional year and remind everyone how great he can be. With Kawhi Leonard missing many games this season due to injury, it appears that Aldridge has gained more confidence as the team's leader.

He is averaging almost 23 points and 9 rebounds per game. Aldridge might be back, but can he sustain this effort?

If the Spurs can better utilize his strengths, which are the pick-and-pop and feeding him in the mid/high post, then they will have great chances of finally seeing the best version of Aldridge for an entire season. With a healthy Leonard and a solid Aldridge, the Spurs should not fear anyone in the playoffs. And with Pau Gasol in his final years in the league, Aldridge also needs to be the defensive anchor in the paint, just like what Duncan used to do. It is difficult to imagine Aldridge performing better at age 34 or 35. It is now or never for Aldridge. At the end of the day, it all falls to the hands of Aldridge and his ability to finally prove that he belongs with the all-mighty, ever-impressive, and immortal Spurs.