The Brooklyn Nets’ starting lineup has already raised a number of questions in the first month of the season. From losing Kyrie Irving indefinitely to James Harden struggling on the offensive end, Steve Nash has had his work cut out for him. However, Nash isn’t the only member of the Nets who has had to make adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge is navigating an unfamiliar territory.
The 36-year-old is taking on a new role in his 17th NBA season, but you can’t tell. He’s averaging 12.9 points per game, the third-best on the team, in a career-low 20.6 minutes per game. All of this has been done with Aldridge coming off the bench for Brooklyn, something that he literally has never done before at this magnitude.
Aldridge was a starter for 13 straight years. He’s of course not the same player he was when he entered the league back in 2006, but he’s built a solid argument to support why he should start for the Nets. Aldridge has seen success as a member of the second unit, but him not starting has been an “ongoing battle” for him.
The veteran made it clear that he’s willing to do whatever is asked of him, but Nash should still take his recent comments into consideration.
Should the Brooklyn Nets put LaMarcus Aldridge in the starting lineup?
Who would’ve guessed that although Aldridge has been a dominant force for Brooklyn, he’s still working to come to terms with his newfound role? Because of this, should the Nets put Aldridge in the starting lineup to see how he fares?
Aldridge would take the place of Blake Griffin, who’s been off to a discouraging start for the Nets. Griffin has started all 16 games that he’s played in and is averaging 5.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game. He’s not playing that much more than Aldridge, which is probably because Aldridge’s been the spark that Brooklyn needs Griffin to be.
How does Nash feel about starting Aldridge? He said that he’s been using the forward as a “scoring punch” as a bench player and wants to limit his minutes so that he’s in an optimal form for later on in the year. Remember how Aldridge retired last season because of his heart condition? That’s something that Nash needs to keep in mind, but Aldridge feels as if he’s ready to take on a bigger role.
"“I get that. I definitely understand trying to be fresh, trying to save [legs]. But also, I understand you’ve got to play a little to get your legs to be able to handle 30 minutes. So I see both sides of it,” Aldridge said. “But I definitely understand it’s more about the long haul here, and it’s not about trying to play 30 minutes right now.”"
Aldridge’s in it for the marathon, whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, but his thoughts should be enough for Nash to take a step back and reevaluate his starting lineup. Will he change his mind? If Griffin’s play doesn’t improve, something should be done … even though there’s clear value in having Aldridge playing with the second unit. Maybe Griffin will benefit from a role change. Who knows at this point.
But one thing’s for sure: Aldridge’s ready to be a starter in the event his number is called.