Hornets Young Pups Volume 1: Al-Farouq Aminu and Potential

Can Aminu be the next Shawn Marion or is he destined to be the second coming of Julian Wright?

When the Hornets decided to move into a rebuilding phase there were two things they needed to assist in such a transition. The first is high lottery draft picks and the second is youthful promising talent.

Al-Farouq Aminu is such a promising asset for New Orleans and their future plans.

Coming out of college Aminu was rated for his rebounding, athleticism and shot-blocking ability. His final season at Wake Forest was outstanding as he put up numbers of 15 points, 10 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals per game. This had Aminu shoot up the boards to be a mid-lottery pick.

After a somewhat turbulent first season with the Clippers, Aminu was then traded to the Hornets in the Chris Paul deal. His potential and talent are undeniable, but there is no doubt that we all see flashes of JuJu in his game. Potential is a word that I’ve really come to loathe (I think this carries my sentiments). Saying, “Oh he’s not good yet, but will be,” is like me saying to my potential employer, “I’m not good yet, but I will be.”

This season Al-Farouq has had a tough time finding his way into the rotation. We’ve seen him start a few games and his best game was in a loss to Dallas in early December. In that game Al put up 15 points on 8 shots, grabbed 12 rebounds and had 4 steals. The great thing about that game was that if you go back and watch he was playing his style of game, something he has a tough time of doing consistently.

A Statistical Glance

If we glance at Al’s statistics we can better understand how he’s fairing on a new team, with a different tempo and philosophy.

Advanced: Aminu's first two seasons in the NBA

In the first graph here we can see Aminu’s advanced statistics, his efficiencies and all of that. Two categories have improved (Defensive Rating and Rebound Rate) while three lag behind. Aminu’s offense has been quite awful this year. Last season it was barely passable. This affirms our perception that Aminu, in the half-court, is quite bad.

How did these outcomes come about?

With Aminu on a new team he’s had to adjust. The Hornets run a very slow tempo in order to make teams work out of a half-court set. This allows Coach Williams to infuse his defensive prowess onto his players. The problem with Aminu is that he seems to fit best on an up-tempo team. With the Clippers, for instance, he didn’t have to read the defense. He had two options: drive or shoot.

In the Hornets offense there isn’t really that kind of clarity. They disperately need someone to create for others (like Aminu), but that option is lacking.

Aminu first two months in the NBA

I also thought it might be interesting to take a look at Aminu’s first two months of each NBA season. In his rookie year Aminu was outstanding. He averaged 7 points a game, shot 46 percent from three, and averaged just under a steal a game.

This season Aminu is off to a dull start. He’s not scoring points, stealing the ball less (but is playing better team defense as seen before in DRtg) and not shooting the ball as well. He is however rebounding terrifically which is a sign of effort and determination.

Al-Farouq is not going to beat you with his dribbling, or work the post-up game with savvy footwork. He’s going to hustle, get rebounds and run the floor all night long.

Working on things

This season there’s so much he needs to work on, the first being his jumper. Aminu has a very poor jump-shot and it clearly hinders the team’s ability to space the floor. The Hornets play at an extremely slow pace, so a jump-shot is something that Al needs desperately to flourish. His ability to run the floor is not a huge positive for the Hornets because of their pace, so his greatest strength is going unutilized.

Either he improves his shot incredibly over the next year or two, or his development might be a lot slower than some hoped. I believe that when we judge Aminu we must do so with patience, something many Hornets fans aren’t familiar with (re: Julian Wright).

So far Aminu has shown much of the same abilities and deficiencies. He rebounds the ball with great effectiveness, but turns it over at an alarming rate (17% TO). In addition his shot has not improved (15% from three on 1 attempt per game).

But I’m not worried about that, because Aminu’s work ethic is outstanding. Coming out of college scouts raved about his attentiveness and willingness to put in effort. Many other NBA players with the same talents and athleticism have gone on to waste it. Aminu is not like that. One thing is certain with all this “potential,” Al-Farouq with Monty Williams at his disposal, has a bright future in the NBA.

Working With Monty

One of the great benefits of having Monty Williams is how he can relate with his players. Williams in his career was a journeyman of sorts. What he lacked in skills and scoring ability he made up for with defense, hustle and effort.

This is exactly the kind of profile that fits Aminu and he should pay close attention to his head-coach.

Williams has worked with several wing players over the years, each with their own abilities. Williams tried to maximise these with an emphasis on defense. He wasn’t restricted to this though, he worked with Nicholas Batum of the Portland Trail Blazers to develop more of a shooting/scoring touch.

Coach has also been heavily involved in the development of guys like Manu Ginobili, Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw (when he was good) and Brandon Roy. He was particularly credited for his work with Travis Outlaw and his fine seasons in 2006 through to 2008. Outlaw came out and averaged 13.3 PPG then 12.8, shot just under 40 percent from three both seasons and also posting solid efficiency statistics.

Aminu needs to stay close with Monty and his assistants. They need to maximise his skill set and develop other areas of his game. He’s another player with a lot of talent, but we are yet to see the signs of marked improvement in this win now league.

I want to be positive and I want a future rotation, maybe even starter on our team. It’s not unreasonable for us to expect this from Aminu. Yes there’s pressure on him, but he himself needs to take things as they come and continue to work hard.

After all that’s what his coach would want.

Young Pups is a weekly piece that you can find every Wednesday only on Hornets247.com.

5 responses to “Hornets Young Pups Volume 1: Al-Farouq Aminu and Potential”

  1. The assumption is that Monty will be the coach next year and for years to come. However, I would be surprised if that turns out to be the case. New Owners usually want to hire their own people. I doubt the new Hornets owner will be any different unless Chouest is involved in the ownsership group.

    • You’re right, and that’s something to consider moving forward. I think that an owner will look at Williams and his resume and assess the context with which he coached. Remember this team is missing its best player and has had to play a lot of tough teams.

      As well, he also had a stellar coaching year in his rookie season. No reason why that shouldn’t be ignored.

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