The Brooklyn Nets have added another piece to their frontcourt with the signing of LaMarcus Aldridge.
The 6-foot-11 big man is in his 15th NBA season, having spent nine seasons with Portland before signing with San Antonio as a free agent in 2015. Like new teammate Kevin Durant, he played his college ball at Texas, moving on to the NBA after his sophomore year, just before Durant arrived for his single season in Austin.
Aldridge has averaged 19.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game for his career with five All-NBA selections, the most recent in 2017-18. He’s also played in seven All-Star Games, mostly recently in 2019.
“He’s a great player,” said Blake Griffin. “I’ve had so much respect for him for a long, long time. Gotten to know him over the years, us both being Jordan (brand) athletes. I just have a ton of respect for him. He’s a basketball purist, loves basketball, loves to work on his game. I always align with that. I’m thrilled to have him.”
Always a strong mid-range shooter — he’s shot 41.8 percent from 10-16 feet and 42.5 percent on 2-pointers beyond 16 feet for his career — Aldridge has taken his game beyond the 3-point line more often the last two seasons. Through 13 seasons, he had never attempted more than 1.5 3-pointers per game in a single season. In 2019-20, he shot 38.9 percent on 3.0 attempts per game and this season he is shooting 36.0 percent on 3.6 attempts per game.
“He spaces the floor so well, he can hit midrange and even out to 3," said Griffin. "I don't know what percentage he shoots from midrange over the course of his career, but it has to be one of the best in that time. You know, that was always a thing for us when you're playing against him. But even now, even him being in the post, he's long, able to defend the rim and also rebound. So those are things we need. So he brings sort of a different dimension from a five that I don't think we have.”
Aldridge’s arrival adds to the options in a frontcourt that was thin earlier this season after Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince were included in the trade for James Harden. Nic Claxton returned in late February after missing the first 32 games due to right knee tendinopathy and has been an impactful rotation player. Blake Griffin was signed in early March and has played three games so far after a brief ramp-up period and Kevin Durant will be returning from the hamstring injury that has sidelined him for Brooklyn’s last 18 games.
“It’s something that we’ll figure out as we go,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “First of all, something comes up every week this season. Your options always seem to be outstanding and then very quickly they’re limited. We’ll adjust and adapt as we go and do the best we can to put the team in the best position to win and to grow. What does that mean? I don’t know. But it’ll declare itself as we proceed and as we deal with all the different things that will be thrown at us the rest of the way.”