Seventy-five years where many things have happened in the best league in the world, extraordinary thousands, on an increasingly global stage, with their little great stories behind each player. That’s where Santi Aldama Toledo (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 2001) is unique. Because what had never happened so far was that a Gran Canaria set foot in the NBA. And that is about to happen if the power forward has minutes in the game that his Memphis Grizzlies play next Thursday against the Cleveland Cavaliers (1.00 hours).
The interior, trained at Canterbury, looks out on the best league in the world with impudence and lead feet, the same ones that have guided his entire sports career. And it is not only a pioneer in its origin. Also it is in the form in which it has arrived until the NBA. Selected in 30th place in the last draft by the Houston Rockets – in a choice made for the Grizzlies – Aldama is the only Spaniard who has reached the world elite of basketball since the NCAA, the university league. The ingredient that adds more difficulty to the matter is in his own team, the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds, an entity without much tradition in its basketball program. There it is almost a legend.
In the preseason, Aldama has left samples of what he is capable of doing. The Gran Canaria has improved his numbers with respect to the Las Vegas Summer League. In total, the power forward averaged 6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 14.3 minutes on the floor.
The Memphis will have to wait until early Thursday to play the Cavaliers
Led by Ja Morant, the Grizzlies are a young team that aspires to repeat what they did last year: enter the Playoffs. Now it remains to be seen what fit Aldama will have in Taylor Jenkins’ plans. Ahead, from the outset, he will have an interior game that was reinforced for this season with Steven Adams, who replaces Jonas Valanciunas as the referent center. Plus, Jaren Jackson Jr., renewed yesterday, will be the other starter in the paint. Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman will be your main competition when it comes to having minutes on the track.
At the moment, he has the approval of his coach. «He is learning good habits on and off the court, he is a great kid, hardworking and intelligent. During the course of his career we will see details of his intelligence to go out on the court at different times, “Jenkins said of him in his best preseason game, where he signed 16 points (7/14 in shooting from the field) and nine rebounds.
The next morning, in addition to the Bucks of the ‘MVP’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA also has another game more than colorful: Lakers against Warriors. The Angelina franchise was made in the summer with Russell Westbrook to form a luxury trident with ‘King’ LeBron James and center Anthony Davis. In front of the Golden State Warriors, still without Klay Thompson, but with Stephen Curry in his best moment on an individual level. It is the elite, the best. A place where Santi Aldama hopes to open a definitive hole.
«Worry at all, this is basketball. I have a lot of desire, a lot of ambition and desire to do well ». With that spirit, the Gran Canaria player faces his first year in the best league in the world. A key season for his development as a player, but one that can also mark his career in the league itself. The qualities to arrive, it has them.