Former Michigan State star Xavier Tillman earns first NBA start with Memphis Grizzlies
Former Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman started the first game of his NBA career on Monday night.
Tillman produced 12 points and six rebounds in the Grizzlies’ 108-104 win over the Suns. He was given the start because center Jonas Valanciunas in in the NBA’s health and safety protocol.
Tillman has impressed early in his NBA career. Coming into this game, he was averaging 8.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest.
NBA scouts have praised him for his efficient floater game and defensive prowess. Here’s a couple examples:
Xavier Tillman continued his excellent rookie campaign last night against Philly with a career-high 15 PTS in 27 MIN. Elite short roll floater, can handle in space, smart positional defender, knocked down a catch & shoot 3. Looking like a steal for Memphis now that he's healthy. pic.twitter.com/2k2nr0fhAC
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) January 17, 2021
Xavier Tillman is starting today for the Grizzlies—he's a rookie who plays like a veteran. Here's how he finished the last game by steering Harris out of bounds.
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) January 18, 2021
In tonight’s game against the Suns, Tillman secured a pivotal rebound with 1.5 seconds remaining and made a game-clinching free throw to give the Grizzlies the victory.
He continues to look like a steal for the Grizzlies. They selected him with the No. 35 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. He joins a young, impressive core that includes Ja Morant and former Michigan State star Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Grizzlies are in action again on Wednesday against the Trail Blazers.