In the latest edition of 'P.I. Pulse,' Pro Insight's Aneesh Namburi conducts a deep dive analysis on Loyola (MD) NBA draft prospect Santi Aldama:
Santi Aldama is a fringe draft candidate who’s shown promise in past FIBA tournaments and in NCAA competition this season. He is a highly-skilled offensive big who can put the ball on the deck, move the ball, and provide shooting versatility, but there are questions about Aldama’s build (4/5 tweener who lacks strength and pop, plus has trouble changing direction) and how his game translates to better competition in a smaller role. Below is an in-depth scouting report that covers every aspect of his game and how it translates to the NBA, where his strengths lie in addition to potential areas of improvement.
Date of Birth 1/10/2001
Weight 224 lbs.
Missed first three months of freshman year (knee procedure)
High: Second unit spacing big. High-level shooting big man w/ size, volume, and versatility. Smart off-ball re-locator to keep offense humming, improves burst to consistently attack off the dribble (too quick for bigs, too strong for wings). Not a vertical threat. Good passer who utilizes reactive manipulation and can work out of the short roll. Solid team defender, consistent back side rim protection due to physical improvements. Too small and limited athletically to play the 5, but straight line/lateral fluidity improves and can switch against primarily off-ball wings.
Median: Fringe rotation big. Plus-shooter w/ versatility. Smart off-ball re-locator to keep offense humming. PnR spacer who can occasionally attack mismatches w/ closeouts. Able to hit shooters off the dribble and able to utilize a bit of reactive manipulation. Below-average defender but passable at some points due to offensive skills + low minute load. Solid team defender, forte is back side rim protection. Too small and limited athletically to play the 5, but improves hip flexibility enough to move w/ smaller 4’s, but will need help against wing types.
Low: Depth big. Can open up unit offense w/ shooting versatility. Smart off-ball re-locator to keep offense humming, but lacks athletic pop to generate space and attack off the dribble. PnR spacing big. More of a ball mover due to minimal advantage creation. Unable to get rotation minutes due to defense. Passable team defender, occasional back side rim protection. Too small and limited athletically to play the 5, straight line/lateral fluidity doesn’t translate to on-ball D due to poor hip flexibility.
Aldama is quite a fluid athlete, but does not possess NBA-level explosion. Already a 4/5 tweener, his lack of length and strength and overall pop most likely prevents him from commanding the 5 spot substantively, as his timing will probably not be enough to mitigate NBA athletes. Aldama runs fluidly and moves well laterally, but struggles mightily when he needs to change direction, largely due to his upright stance and high hips. While at first appearance Aldama appears to have enough strength to hold his own, the lack of utilization in the Patriot League gives concern about its translation to the NBA. Aldama will not only need to broaden his shoulders and add significantly to his core, but also re-adjust his mentality to a more contact-driven approach, especially when finishing in the half court.
Lacking vertical pop but excellent timing and instincts mitigate this negative to some extent
Rarely accelerates/decelerates, fluid moving north-south
Possesses little burst, specifically from a standstill
Combination of these factors make playing the 5 mostly untenable
High and tight hips, seems to have trouble sitting in a stance and changing directions
Straight line lateral movement is passable
Lower body is built solid, upper body needs a little work; biggest issue w/ strength is that he rarely uses it (shies away from contact on finishes + offensive players attack and move him when protecting the rim)
Most of Aldama’s intrigue comes on the offensive side of the ball, where he has shown the ability to project as a potential second unit offensive hub. Maintaining a positive offensive value is imperative to his staying power in the NBA, as it is unlikely he ever becomes a good enough defender to warrant minutes due to limitations on that side of the court. Aldama’s standout skill is his shooting proficiency while showing flashes of versatility through usage in a variety of actions (catch-and-shoot, movement, re-location, pick-and-pop, etc.). His standstill shooting alone at his size is extremely valuable, but his potential to fire off movement and attack closeouts due to his fluidity would make Aldama a tough game plan for most opposing bigs. He also possesses positive instincts as a playmaker. While not a proactive passer, his reactive playmaking is near the top of bigs in this draft class. He can spray to shooters all over the court, specifically out of PnR popping situations, and can hit shooters and cutters alike out of the post. The swing skill for Aldama will be his efficiency as a PnR big, specifically developing some level of finishing gravity (which should also open up his short roll ability). While Aldama showed flashes with the ball in his hands with Loyola, it is tough to see those traits scaling up to NBA competition due to the difference in athleticism among defenders and his lack of shake and overall handle.
Half court: 53.8% of 2’s assisted, 46.2% of 3’s assisted