Nets' LaMarcus Aldridge Says Coming off Bench Has Been 'Very Difficult'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IINovember 23, 2021

Brooklyn Nets' LaMarcus Aldridge (21) trees to get past Cleveland Cavaliers' Dylan Windler (9) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Brooklyn Nets forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge noted how difficult it's been transitioning from being a starter his whole career to coming off the bench this season.

"It's very difficult," Aldridge said, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. "You've been one type of player or a certain type of player your whole career. It's definitely different coming off the bench and not playing much. So it's been difficult. โ€ฆ I'm still trying to figure it out and navigate it and find my spots. And I'm just trying to find my ways to try and help out."

The seven-time All-Star served as a core piece for a host of playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs teams during his career.

Aldridge started every game he played from the 2007-08 season through the 2019-20 campaign. He primarily came off the bench during his rookie year in 2006-07 and started 23 of 26 games this past season.

This season, the Nets have opted to go with smaller starting lineups with 6'9" Blake Griffin serving as the team's center. Brooklyn has routinely closed competitive games with the 6'11" Aldridge, however, doing so each of the past three contests.

The 2021-22 season marks the first time the 16-year NBA veteran has exclusively come off the bench.

Naturally, it's a pretty big transition for the 36-year-old, who is being utilized as Brooklyn's top big man off the bench. He's thriving, though, by averaging 13.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game for the 13-5 Nets, who lead the Eastern Conference.

The former Texas star is shooting 57.7 percent from the field and posting a 23.5 player efficiency rating, which Basketball-Reference notes as his second-best career mark.

Aldridge is ultimately a Sixth Man of the Year candidate for a team that looks like a championship contender through 18 games. He may not be starting every night and averaging 35-plus minutes per game, but Aldridge is still an invaluable member of this team.