The Brooklyn Nets have needed contributions from all across the roster in order to keep this offense rolling without Kyrie Irving. While James Harden has been a bit more inconsistent than this team would’ve liked so far, LaMarcus Aldridge has been arguably Brooklyn’s most impressive player.
Not only is Aldridge shooting an insane 65% from the field this season, but he’s been nearly automatic from mid-range. With Harden taking up so much attention on the defensive end, it’s easy for Aldridge to get wide-open looks.
The Nets were rarely able to deploy lineups with both of them on the floor last year. In addition to Aldridge retiring after just a few games due to his heart issues, Harden played just four minutes alongside him before he aggravated an injury.
Luckily for the Nets, both players have returned to the fold this season, and some of the team’s best on-court lineups involve Aldridge’s scoring skills and Harden’s offensive creation working in tandem. This could be a secret weapon that helps the Nets re-establish themselves as contenders.
LaMarcus Aldridge and James Harden are key for the Brooklyn Nets.
Two of the best Nets lineups this team features involve Harden running point and Aldridge playing center. Per Cleaning the Glass, of all the lineups that the Nets have used for a minimum of 30 possessions this year, the combination of Harden, Aldridge, Patty Mills, Joe Harris, and Kevin Durant has more points per 100 possessions (132.5) than any other.
If you swap out Harris in favor of Bruce Brown, Brooklyn is still averaging 115.4 points per 100 possessions.
Harden can still score with the best of them, but with Irving out, he’s being forced to play more like a traditional point guard that gets the offense set up. Who better to spot up from mid-range and finish off dishes inside than a player in Aldridge who has made a borderline Hall of Fame career by doing exactly that?
While Aldridge came into the season as a complete unknown due to his health issues, it became clear last year that Steve Nash knows how to get solid production out of the power forward in a limited role. With Harden finally getting the chance to utilize Aldridge as a potential target for his passes, the offense should continue to trend upward.
The Nets might have punched above their weight on the defensive end, but this team is still going to win and lose games on the strength of their offensive attack. Brooklyn has a new dynamic duo in town without Irving, as Aldridge and Harden could help take pressure off of Durant.