Old school baller of the week: Mark Aguirre

Name: Mark Aguirre
Position: Small Forward
Height/Weight: 6’6”/232 pounds
Teams: Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons

What made him so special?

Mark Aguirre took his college team, DePaul, to the Final Four during his freshman season. He won multiple college “player of the year” awards. He was the 1st overall pick in the 1981 NBA draft, going ahead of players like Isiah Thomas, Buck Williams, Tom Chambers, Danny Ainge and Larry Nance. He ranks as one of the top 50 scorers of all-time and holds a career scoring average of 20 points per game.

Despite all of that, Mark Aguirre remains relatively anonymous. When you think of the “bad boys” Detroit Pistons teams of the late 80s and early 90s you think of names like the aforementioned Thomas, and Dumars, Rodman and Laimbeer. Even on the Dallas Mavericks teams that Aguirre played on earlier in his career, the general notoriety went to players like Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper. Aguirre was throughout his career the silent assassin. For all his skills and accomplishments, Aguirre played out of the relative limelight. While revered by his teammates and feared by opposing defenders, Aguirre hardly got the fan recognition he deserved.

As friends Isiah Thomas, who Aguirre met when the two were teens growing up in Chicago, and Magic Johnson, who used to ball with both Aguirre and Thomas during summers in East Lansing, Michigan, went on to capture all the glory, Aguirre put up numbers good enough to be our second ever “Old School Baller of the Week”.

During his pro career Aguirre averaged 20 points, 5 rebounds and 3.1 assists, while shooting 48% from the floor and 74% from the free throw line. He also played on 3 All-Star teams.

Mark Aguirre’s game is most like…

Jerry Stackhouse. We’ll get to the statistical similarities in a second, but on a more general level Aguirre and Stackhouse’s careers followed similar paths. Both played for the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. Both were hired guns brought in to provide firepower off the bench for a team with championship aspirations – Aguirre on the Pistons and Stackhouse, of course, on the current Dallas Mavericks. They also had similar games, relying quite heavily on the pull-up mid-range jumper as their go-to move on offense. Though Aguirre was a little meaner and tougher, and played a bit more in the post.

Statistically, Stackhouse, to date, averages 19.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists over his 12 year career. Numbers that are pretty similar to the stats Aguirre put up during his 13 season run.

Outside of Stackhouse, Carmelo Anthony also comes to mind when comparing Aguirre’s game. But generally, Jerry Stackhouse is probably the closest replica of Mark Aguirre in today’s NBA.

Aguirre on Aguirre

"I put a lot of vicious poundings on opposing teams that I think opposing coaches didn’t like, because I would really try to take a guy’s heart. In taking a guy’s heart, you get real nasty in doing that. I got nasty every night and I don’t think that coaches really liked the fact that I got that nasty. My mode was not to just beat you but to destroy you.

If he played today.

Aguirre had a sweet mid-range stroke and he knew how to use screens to get open shots, but his quickness, or relative lack thereof, and stocky arms would probably be that much more noticeable in today’s NBA. Aguirre’s game was very much Earth-bound, and in today’s high-flying NBA he might not have been quite as successful and may have had a harder time getting his shot off against longer players at small forward like Tracey McGrady and Gerald Wallace. Still, given his offensive gifts, even in today’s NBA Aguirre would have been well ahead of average.

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