Heading into this season, the Memphis Grizzlies had a major question to answer regarding their starting lineup. With Jaren Jackson Jr. recovering from foot surgery, Taylor Jenkins had a vacant spot in the frontcourt.
Following an impressive performance in the preseason, Santi Aldama got the call to fill in for JJJ. After not playing much during his rookie season, the 21-year-old found himself with a starting job to open year two.
His play has been up-and-down, but the Grizzlies’ big man has shown some nice flashes. Aldama’s best outing came on opening night when he posted 18 points and 11 rebounds in an overtime win over the New York Knicks.
Now that all teams have a handful of games under their belt, John Hollinger of The Athletic put together a list of under-the-radar players who have had a hot start to the season. It was there he had some high praise for what Aldama has done for the Grizzlies thus far.
"Aldama will likely return to the bench once Jackson comes back, but his solid play in this role should keep him in the Grizzlies’ frontcourt mix all season and could especially matter come playoff time… Aldama’s combination of size, mobility and passable 3-point shooting portend a potential answer."
Santi Aldama is Memphis Grizzlies’ latest success story
Over the past few years, the Memphis Grizzlies have built a reputation for getting the most out of their young talent. The developmental team has done great work with star guard Ja Morant and members of the supporting cast like Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke.
Seeing how he’s played to start the year, Aldama is the latest success story of the Grizzlies’ staff. With the step forward he’s taken, the young big man might have secured a spot in the rotation even after Jaren Jackson Jr. makes his return.
Depth is crucial for teams that want to make a run at the title, and luckily for Memphis, they continue to find hidden gems.