The Brooklyn Nets are 10-4 and sit in second place in the Eastern Conference. Kevin Durant leads the league in scoring with 29.6 points per game and Brooklyn has held opponents to 42.6% shooting from the field, the second-best in the league.
Truthfully, it’s astounding that Aldridge is back in the league in the first place. He retired in April after experiencing an irregular heartbeat after only playing in five games for the Nets. Five months later, he signed a one-year deal with Brooklyn.
The first month into the season, the 17-year veteran has been an absolute force coming off the bench. He’s averaging 12.8 points per game, the same number that he averaged last season with the Nets. Aldridge is shooting 58.6% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line. As if that isn’t enough, he’s pulled down an average of 5.7 rebounds per game.
Those are tremendous numbers for an aging 6-foot-11 forward. If he pulls up from mid-range, it’s practically automatic. Aldridge is the third-highest scorer on the team, so when you look at it that way, you can’t help but wonder why he isn’t in the starting lineup.
LaMarcus Aldridge’s level of play wouldn’t be the same as a starter.
Meanwhile, Griffin has started in the 13 games that he’s played in and his numbers aren’t exactly similar to Aldridge’s. He’s averaging 6.1 points per game and is shooting 33% from the field and 18% from downtown. The only parallel between the two is that Griffin is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game.
Yes, there’s still a lot of basketball left to be played, but those numbers are all career-lows for the former No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Griffin’s game needs to improve without a doubt, but it’s not the time to bench him in favor of Aldridge just yet.
Here’s an interesting point of view from March when Aldridge was still in San Antonio:
Well, technically, Aldridge is one of the top guys for Brooklyn right now, so that part isn’t entirely true. But he isn’t a key starter. Griffin may not be contributing much on the offensive end of the court right now, but he’s been all over the floor as part of his “blue collar boys” mentality. His nine drawn charges is tops in the NBA.
And who’s to say that Aldridge would be putting up similar numbers as a starter? He, along with Patty Mills, have been spectacular members of the second unit. We’re all aware that Kyrie Irving isn’t with the team, so Nash has had to create rotations that don’t involve one of his top scorers. Irving averaged 26.9 points last year and, even with Durant being in MVP form, the Nets have struggled to put points up on the offensive end.
There are still 68 games left in the regular season. Now isn’t the time to throw away part of the starting lineup and start fresh. Let’s be real, the four starters that aren’t Durant haven’t been playing at their best so far this year. Brooklyn has won eight of its last 10 games, and while the team is far from being in playoff mode, it’s going to take time to adjust. There’s no Irving, and Harden is just now starting to get back into a groove after working his way back from last year’s hamstring injury.
And realistically, Aldridge’s health is a concern. The last thing that Brooklyn wants to do is put him in a position where he’s at risk. It’s been great to see him back on the court, but it doesn’t seem right to add him to the starting-five mix just yet. The Nets need his spark off the bench.