Nets superstars Kevin Durant and James Harden are confident about LaMarcus Aldridge’s new role in the starting lineup. The former Spurs player might fill in Blake Griffin’s place permanently.
The Brooklyn Nets are comfortably sitting on top of the eastern conference, despite one of their key players in Kyrie Irving not having played a single game this season. Kevin Durant has been the savior for his team, leading from the front. KD is in the second position on the list of the league’s top scorers this season.
However, the two-time Finals MVP has found help from the most unexpected quarters in LaMarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills. Though many expected James Harden to dominate this season, the Beard has not been able to get going since the 2021 playoffs.
Nonetheless, in this moment of difficulty, the Nets have found a viable scoring option in LaMarcus. The 36-year old had to leave last season mid-way as he was suffering from a heart ailment. However, his love for the sport couldn’t keep him away for long, and he would return to the hardwood after being cleared on all medical grounds.
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The Nets fans had very minimal expectations from the veteran. However, LaMarcus has proved to be the wild card for the Nets this season and may very well find himself a permanent spot in the starting lineup.
The rise of LaMarcus Aldridge.
Nets head coach Steve Nash might have finally found the solution to his problem of having a dominant center on the roster. During the recent match against the Boston Celtics, LaMarcus started in place of Griffin, and the former Blazers star didn’t disappoint.
LaMarcus had 17-points and 9-rebounds on a 53.8% shooting from the field. The Nets have been missing a dominant big man on their team. Though LaMarcus might not be the ideal big man, he can certainly put the ball in the bucket. The veteran has one of the best mid-range games in the league.
Coming off the bench, LaMarcus has averaged 13.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and 1.2 BPG on an impressive 57.6% shooting from the field this season. On the other hand, Griffin has been having a rough time shooting the ball. The six-time All-Star is averaging a dismal 5.5 PPG on a 31.8% shooting from the field.
Reflecting on his decision to start LaMarcus, Nash said,
“We just need to look at different things,” coach Steve Nash said. “I think it picked up our pace. (Aldridge is) not the fastest guy on the floor, but we played with pace. We played with ideas. We weren’t stagnant. We moved the ball. I thought we defended well.”
Via: New York Post
Nets guard James Harden had some words of praise for the veteran as well.
“I told him in the game, one thing about him I don’t ever have to worry about him making or missing shots,” Harden said. “He’s got over 20,000 points. So I don’t know the last time he started — he’s probably got to get used to starting again — but it’ll get there. And obviously sure enough he did that. But I don’t worry about that.”
The three-time scoring champion applauded LaMarcus for his ability to shoot the ball, especially from mid-range.
“He’s going to get going, and once he gets going that just brings a different element to our game on the offensive end. Our offense will come and we’ll continue to grow and get better. Now with LaMarcus in our starting lineup, he gives us a different role sometimes with his pick-and-pop jump shot. So the bigs now aren’t able to sit in the paint and crowd the paint.”
Via: New York Post
Durant believes that the team needs a center that can score and rebound.
“Somebody that can space, knock down his shot, and just a big body that can rebound and protect the rim,” KD said, regarding what the Nets need from their center.
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In what it seems, LaMarcus might be the new starting center, especially after getting the nod from Durant and Harden.