The chances of Al-Farouq Aminu slipping to pick eight may be slim, but stranger things have certainly happened. Here we take a look at the video to see what Aminu can bring to the Clippers.
Aminu’s ability to get out and run on the break is breathtaking to watch. He’s listed at 6-foot-8, but he’s all arms and legs and as a runner he takes gigantic strides up the court. Often times Aminu would collect the defensive rebound, outlet the ball, and beat his wings up the court as the trail man on the break. Throughout the year he showed fantastic chemistry with his point guard Ishmael Smith, one of the best distributors on the break in all of college basketball. With Smith commanding the middle of the floor, Aminu would do a great job creating angles for his point guard and also presenting him with multiple alley-oop opportunities. On the times Aminu brought the ball up court himself or received it early on the perimeter, he was scarily reminiscent of a young Lamar Odom. Aminu’s go to move on the break is to head right at the defender (almost like a running back heading right at a safety) and at the last second shift all his weight to avoid any contact before finishing with a pretty fingerroll at the rim. So much of being a good athlete is about body control, and Aminu passes with flying colors there, even at full speed.
Unfortunately, all Aminu really brings to the table offensively is putbacks and transition chances. There wasn’t one available clip of Aminu making a pullup jumper off the dribble, and his post game is completely reliant on being faster than his opponent. Outside of being able to finish with either hand and use the backboard well around the rim, there’s no real “skill” to Aminu’s game. Yes, some of the moves he makes are aesthetically pleasing, but his jumper is basically non-existent at this point and a long ways from being even passable in the league. Aminu shot 27.3 percent from three this year on 2.1 attempts per contest, with most those shots being wide open looks. More often than not, opposing defenses wisely begged Aminu to shoot from the perimeter, and far too often he obliged.
If Aminu is so limited offensively, why did he score 15.8 points a game this year? Look no further than the outrageous 4.3 offensive rebounds per game he put up, which was good for the fourth highest total in the nation. Aminu was far superior to the athletes in the ACC this year, but even against NBA caliber bigs like Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, he’d find ways to get rebounds. Aminu has a ridiculous 7-foot-3 wingspan that helps him get to a lot of balls he has absolutely no business getting to. He’s not a banger, but he doesn’t need to be.
Because of that wingspan, Aminu can hack it as a post defender in the league. One of the best things about Aminu is that he disrupts entry passes and uses his lateral quickness to jump from side to side of the post player. If the pass does get through, he does a really great job of getting those long arms straight up in the air. Unlike many big time athletes, Aminu doesn’t try and swat every thing out of the gym. He’s content with providing a little bump with the chest, and then getting those arms in the way of shot attempts. That will go a long way in staying out of foul trouble as a rookie.
On the perimeter:
Aminu’s combination of foot speed, lateral quickness, hand speed, and length could make him a tremendously versatile defender on the next level. At Wake Forest, Aminu looked a little like Josh Smith does in Atlanta, being able to switch on every cut, every screen, and still hold the advantage over his competitors. Aminu probably shouldn’t spend a ton of time on centers or point guards, but two through four? No problem. Aminu has an incredible motor defensively that often has him running around the court, hounding ball carriers, looking for strips, flying over for weak side blocks, and generally covering a ridiculous amount of space on the court. His one weakness is that he allows a little too much room for opposing players to get their jumpers off in isolation, but in a defensive system he trusts you could expect him to play tigher on the wing.
Pick and Roll Defense:
By far the most impressive aspect of Aminu’s game is his pick and roll defense. There is literally no strategy he can’t excel in. Want to switch every on ball screen? No problem, Aminu is a good enough athlete to stay in front of people. Want to get out and hedge? Aminu is so fast laterally that he can push point guards to either sideline and sometimes as far back as half court. Want to trap the screen, like the Dunleavy Era Clippers liked to do? That hand speed and harrassing length can cause all kinds of problems in passing lanes. With Griffin, Aminu, and Kaman (who is surprisingly good at getting out on pick and rolls), the Clips could become a top-tier defensive team simply by taking away the bread and butter of most NBA offenses.
Best Case Scenario: Josh Smith
Josh Smith is one of the rare players in the NBA who can succeed without any sort of offensive game to speak of. For many years Smith didn’t realize his limitations and shot and missed a ton of jumpers, looking like he would never figure it out. Last year Smith stopped shooting and just hung around the rim, and it was kind of a revelation. Aminu has shown that he likes to spot up, even though he’s a horrid shooter and was a cut-above athletically in college. Like we tend to preach here on Clipperblog, knowing your limitations as a player is half the battle. Smith has already sort of blazed the path for a guy like Aminu. Hit the offensive boards, fly out in transition, dunk everything in sight. If Aminu follows that path, the sky’s the limit.
Worst Case Scenario: Tyrus Thomas
For every success story of a relatively unskilled athlete making it (Josh Smith, Gerald Wallace) , there are a million guys who don’t. Athletic forwards without offensive games and a true position just don’t have a lot of success very often if they’re not elite in other areas of the game. Can Aminu be an elite defender? Certainly, but he won’t be if that’s not his primary focus.
Aminu shows hints of being a Josh Smith or a Gerald Wallace type tweener, but he’s not nearly the athlete those two players are. Like most of the players in this draft, Aminu doesn’t project out to be a star. He can’t create his own shot and he can’t shoot, and in the NBA, that’s a problem.
That said, it’s rare to see a player with those physical tools give the amount of effort Aminu already does on the defensive end. For a team that values that end of the court and likes to get out a run a bit, Aminu is a perfect guy to plug in at either forward spot. Are the Clippers that team? We don’t know yet, and that’s one of the most unsettling parts about evaluating prospects in this year’s draft.