The Brooklyn Nets strike again.
After coming to terms on a buyout with the San Antonio Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge has signed with the Nets for the remainder of the season.
OFFICIAL 📝- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 29, 2021
The Brooklyn Nets have signed 7x NBA All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge!
▪️▫️ WELCOME TO BK, @aldridge_12 ▫️▪️ pic.twitter.com/gE77YxB8yM
The Nets are now loaded with big men. Not only do they have three full-time centres in Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Nicolas Claxton, they have two power forwards turned centres in Jeff Green and Blake Griffin. Time will tell if there's enough minutes to go around for all of them - either one of them is almost certainly going to be the odd man out when Kevin Durant returns or Brooklyn is going to play super big more often - but signing Aldridge gives the Nets even more versatility at the centre position.
What Aldridge brings to the table that nobody else on the roster currently does is size and shooting.
Aldridge averaged 13.7 points in the 27 games he appeared in with the Spurs this season - his lowest scoring average since his rookie season - but he shot a scorching 52.7 percent from midrange and a respectable 36.0 percent from 3-point range. He posted similar numbers on even higher volume last season, shooting 44.9 percent from midrange and 38.9 percent from 3-point range.
That shooting touch will ease his fit next to Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant. With the amount of attention each one of them commands with and without the ball in their hands, Aldridge should be the beneficiary of a lot of open looks when he shares the court with them.
Not only is he a legitimate pick-and-pop threat...
...he can spot-up on the 3-point line, giving the Nets the option of playing five-out without sacrificing size.
"He has the ability to make 3-pointers, so that opens the floor up," Nets coach Steve Nash said of Aldridge. "He understands that this is a different role and a different team. I want him to find that natural balance between the way he has traditionally played and the way we play."
Aldridge also gives the Nets someone they can go to in the post, although he isn't the back to the basket scorer he once was.
According to NBA.com, Aldridge is averaging 0.92 points per post-up possession this season, ranking him in the 49th percentile in efficiency. That's down from 0.97 points per possession (66th percentile) in 2019-20 and 1.04 points per possession (77th percentile) in 2018-19.
While he might not be someone teams can build their offence around anymore - Aldridge led the league in post scoring in three of the last five seasons - adding an established post threat could come in handy against teams that switch often. The same goes for when Aldridge is a part of bench-heavy lineups that lack a scoring punch.
Either way, Aldridge won't face the same calibre of defenders in Brooklyn that he did in San Antonio, as he will sometimes be the fourth or fifth option. It should allow him to be much more selective with his post-ups, going to them more when he has a clear mismatch.
With his shooting and post-up scoring, Aldridge has the potential to be a nice addition offensively to the Nets. The other end of the court is more of a question mark.
As ESPN's Kevin Pelton noted, the Nets have switched the most picks in the league this season. Why is that notable? Aldridge has switched a total of nine picks while defending the screener this season, per Second Spectrum. He doesn't profile as someone who would thrive in Brooklyn's defensive scheme, especially at this stage of his career, but he appears to be motivated to prove that he can.
LaMarcus Aldridge says his defensive IQ, ability to switch, and communication can help the Nets on defense.- Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksNBA) March 30, 2021
Aldridge at least has the size to be a deterrent around the basket, standing at 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan. He had an above average block rate for his position each season he was with the Spurs and has held opponents to slightly below their league average around the basket this season. Even if the Nets do have to tweak their defence with him on the court, be it by switching only one through four or playing a drop coverage, his size is an asset.
There's a case to be made that the Nets would've been better off pursuing a more defensive-minded player around the trade deadline considering they already own the league's best offensive rating, but Aldridge gives them a different look at their only real position of need that could pay dividends in the postseason.
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