So the Pistons have three second round picks and I think their biggest hole to fill in the roster is in the frontcourt. Mason Plumlee is 31 and only has 2 years left on his deal. Jahlil Okafor showed very little this past season and his contract expires at the end of this season. Sekou is still very raw and needs G League time to figure out if he is a combo forward or if maybe he can play some center if he does not develop a few SF skills.
Beef Stew is truly the only guy guaranteed to be in the long term plans of this team and with clear skill to contribute next season and beyond. Also, side note, Saddiq got some time at the 4, but I would imagine that is going to be lessened in the next few years with that being Jerami's best spot and Saddiq not exactly being a rebounding machine.
The team needs some young bodies at the front court positions. And even if you are someone who thinks Sekou should get more minutes next season, that still leaves Okafor as the "young guy" at center. The team would be wise to draft at least one frontcourt player in the second round if they keep all three picks in round two.
This will be a series I run until the draft (or until Grim Weaver trades the picks) who I think the team should take a look at here in the second round with some rapid fire scouting reports. I'll give their stats, a brief overview of strengths and areas they need to improve, and end with a draft range. Let's get started!
20 years old
6'11" 215 lbs
21.2 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.7 bpg
58.5% from two, 36.8% from three, 68.6% from the Free Throw line
59.4% True Shooting, 15.5% Assist Percentage, 15.3% Turnover Rate, 30.5% Usage
One of the biggest mysteries of this draft. Came through the Canterbury Academy with current Arizona center Oumar Ballo as kids. Was the MVP of the FIBA U18 Tournament for Spain who won the gold medal of that tournament. Outshone his teammate Usman Garuba and beat up on Turkey's best player in the final, Alperen Şengün.
After all this he ends up on Loyola-Maryland playing in the Patriot League. A player of this caliber usually plays for one of the top clubs in Europe or ends up at somewhere like Kentucky. Seriously if someone knows what happened here I would love to know cuz it does give many people pause when putting the whole scouting profile together (which we will circle back to later in this piece).
Number one for Aldama, he can score the ball. He was the leading scorer in the Patriot League so it extended even beyond his team. He can post up, shoot from NBA range, and even put the ball on the deck some. He has some handles to attack closeouts and showed that ability it seems like once every game when defenders bit on his shot fake.
He also is a good rebounder, leading the Patriot League in that stat too. He's in the Kevin Love category of understanding positioning and basic boxout principles rather than overpowering or out-jumping guys for boards. Rarely does he jump to get rebounds because he'll squat in the right spot if no one is around him. And if he is in a crowd, he will find a body to get on, sit down, and then turn his body to box them out.
He also turned it on even more to close out the year in the Patriot League conference tournament. Loyola was in last place with Lehigh, but Aldama helped lead his team to the final where they ultimately fell to Colgate. It is only 3 games, but these were some of his finest bits of film as he read double teams, passed out of them, and really showed he could manipulate the defense when they sent help his way.
Areas for Improvement
Going back to his development and eventual landing at Loyola-Maryland, my gut makes me ask if this is a guy who NEEDS to be the man on whatever team he is on. 30.5% Usage last year and 28.3% as freshman is incredibly high for a big. He got up 263 total shots last year for his team. The next closest guy, Jaylin Andrews, had 165. Aldama had 87 three-point attempts and Andrews again was the next closest with 49.
Part of this is just that Aldama is doing ALL the heavy lifting on offense as no one else on this team was even able to clear 12 ppg, but this is also a team in a weaker league with a LEGIT star that went 6-11. They tied for dead last in the Patriot League with Lehigh. And Aldama had a lot to do with all those losses.
Aldama put up 39 assists to 55 turnovers for starters. Again, I understand he is doing almost all the heavy lifting for this team, but his assists mainly came from playing within the system as opposed to live dribble situations. He seems to me someone who already understands a Spurs type system of making quick extra passes from a standstill, but when asked to create on the move he made some poor decisions.
I mentioned the conference tournament being some of his finest film, but unfortunately during the rest of the season he tried to force his shot over finding open teammates much of the time. He will also bust out the flash with the pass once or twice a game and it is not because he is trying to make the right play. He's gotta cut that out and perfect making the simple reads first.
His defense is also ineffective. He definitely is a willing defender, running after guys and jumping to get blocks. He does not know where to be or how to stay disciplined right now, however. He bites on any shot attempt or fake trying to get the block, and when he is tasked on trying to decide how to defend a guy in the corner while still trying to protect the rim he doesn't trust his teammates to handle their defensive assignments.
The best way to put it might be, you will see him CHASE a lot of guys on defense but you don't see him effectively guard a lot of them. This might be something that can be fixed in the NBA...but again with his development and where he was before Loyola-MD you would think he would have gotten the coaching on this as the Spanish and Canterbury developmental programs stress those fundamentals.
Comp and Fit on the Pistons
A big whose main asset is shooting 3s and getting rebounds he reminds me most of one time Piston Ersan Ilyasova. Aldama is listed as 2 inches taller but he is also listed as 20 pounds lighter. Like Ilyasova he will mainly be asked to space the floor and then will surprise people with how effective a rebounder he is despite not having top notch physical measurements.
And as Ilyasova has done on just about every team he has been on, Aldama would fit in as a pick-and-pop option as part of the rotation. Even if the roster stayed the same, Aldama could get time in the second unit alongside Beef Stew to give he and guys like Josh Jackson and Hamidou Diallo space to operate. Plus whether Killian or Saben runs the second unit, they could have pick-and-rolls with Beef Stew and pick-and-pops with Aldama.
Let me know what you think of Santi Aldama in the comments and if you would want the Pistons to use one of their second round picks on him or if you would pass. Next time, I may or may not profile an older college player Chaz will make fun of me for...stay tuned!