How Santi Aldama played his way into Grizzlies rotation

Santi Aldama, Memphis Grizzlies (Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports)
Santi Aldama, Memphis Grizzlies (Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports) /

After trading for the 30th overall pick on draft night 2021, the Memphis Grizzlies rolled the dice on big man Santi Aldama out of Spain. The 21-year-old then found himself on one of the league’s most up-in-coming rosters.

Due to the Grizzlies’ abundance of talent, Aldama sparingly got minutes last season. He appeared in 32 games and posted averages of 4.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 0.7 APG.

While Aldama didn’t get consistent playing time as a rookie, that could change in year two. His stellar play in the preseason could lead to Taylor Jenkins finding a spot for him in the rotation to open the year.

In three preseason games, Aldama is averaging 15 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.7 APG. The only Grizzlies with higher scoring marks than him are Kenny Lofton Jr. and Ja Morant. Aside from his averages, the thing that has stood out most from Aldama is his outside shooting.

So far this preseason, Aldama has connected on 54.5% of his three-point attempts. To put into perspective how massive this jump is, he only converted 12.5% of his threes last season. Albeit the sample size is small, the young big man looks to be making big strides in his development.

Santi Aldama emerging as Jaren Jackson Jr. replacement for Grizzlies

Heading into the regular season, it remains unclear when Jaren Jackson Jr. will be able to debut after undergoing foot surgery in the offseason. If he is forced to miss time, the Grizzlies might have another option on the table in regard to his replacement.

Seeing how he’s shot the lights out from deep in preseason, Santi Aldama might have a case to join the starting lineup in JJJ’s absence. Having adequate floor spacing will be crucial for Memphis as they look to maximize Ja Morant’s talent on the offensive end.

Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman are two other possible replacements, but both are non-shooters. Pairing them next to Steven Adams in the frontcourt could lead to a crowded painted area.

Aldama still has a lot to prove, but if he can continue to be a threat from deep, it might lead to a bump in playing time.

Next. Santi Aldama’s success could complicate the future of two Grizzlies players. dark