LaMarcus Aldridge: The Steal of Free Agency

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On Monday, the Nets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers by a score of 117-112 despite a quiet scoring night from James Harden (14 PTS, 5-10 FG). Kevin Durant had 27 points on 8-19 shooting (42.1%), and LaMarcus Aldridge was right behind him in the scoring column with 21 points on an efficient 10-14 (71.4%) from the field. He was helped by some nice passes from James Harden, who had 14 assists in Monday’s game.

The crazy part about what LaMarcus Aldridge is doing this season is that he is operating at the highest efficiency of his career through his first 17 games played of the season. After coming back from having an irregular heartbeat in 2020, Aldridge is averaging 13.4 points on 57.7% shooting along with 5.8 rebounds. He is also shooting 39.1% from downtown, proving that he is a scoring threat beyond the arc.

In comparison, Aldridge’s next best season in terms of efficiency was the 2018-19 season where he shot 51.9% from the field. Back in 2018, LaMarcus Aldridge may have been a better player than 2021 Aldridge, but he was also making over 22.3 million dollars per year that season compared to just over 2.6 million dollars this year.

Defensively, Aldridge is averaging 1.2 blocks per game which he only surpassed in 2018 (1.3 blocks per game), and he has a defensive rating (how many points a player allows per 100 possessions) of 104.1, placing him in the top ten centers in the league in the category. While Blake Griffin (5.1 PPG, 31.8% from the field, 16.1 3PT%), and Paul Millsap (2.9 PPG, 36.1% from the field) have struggled offensively this season, LaMarcus Aldridge has given this team a big lift and has helped them to the best record in the Eastern Conference at 13-5.

Overall, LaMarcus Aldridge has earned my respect so far this season by playing at such a high level after we all doubted that he would ever play on an NBA court again during last season.

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