AFA: The reason why the Hornets won’t miss Ariza

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Published: July 3, 2012

Ryan uses numbers to break down the impact Aminu has on the Hornets while comparing him to the departed Trevor Ariza.  Is Aminu the small forward of the future?

As of a week and a half ago, the decks were cleared for Al-Farouq Aminu as Trevor Ariza was sent packing in return for a PED-less and nearly use-less Rashard Lewis who is bound to be waived.  The question, of course, is if that is a good thing or not.  Will the Hornets miss Ariza on the wing?  What did Aminu show last year as he averaged nearly 22.4 minutes a game last year?

The answer, essentially, is he showed the skillset of Trevor Ariza.  Or at least, the perception of Trevor Ariza.  Let’s have at it.

The Offensive Offense

Let’s get one thing out of the way.  Ariza and Aminu are bad offensive players.

Through Ariza’s entire career he has posted below average numbers in every shooting category.  Last year he had one of his best years in the league, and was still well below average.  Yes, he has some moves.  He could pull up.  He could drive.  He usually made the right decision and was actually the best wing the Hornets had at generating assists, (damn him with faint praise) but he also usually failed to convert when making those moves.

You see, there isn’t a lot of difference between the guy who is making the wrong decisions and failing and the guy making the right decisions and failing anyways.  They both fail.  Ariza is the latter.

Aminu is the former.  His results almost equal Ariza’s recent averages, as Aminu posted a 48.1% True Shooting Percentage to Ariza’s 47.8%(52.8% is league average), a per 36 minute turnover rate of 2.5 to Ariza’s 2.3, and posted about 2/3rds of Ariza’s assist rate.

Do these numbers inspire confidence in Aminu?  No, of course not.  But I’d rather have a bad 22 year old than an equally bad 27 year old.  The 27 year is not going to change.  The 22 year old may.

The Superb Defense

This is where the real analysis starts, because Ariza wasn’t an offensive player and wasn’t expected to be one either.  Instead, Ariza had a towering reputation as a defensive stopper that he earned playing for a championship Lakers squad.  The odd thing, however, is this reputation is probably not deserved.

  • According to the NBA’s secret super-stats tool, when Ariza was playing, opponents shot 47% from the field and 36.4% from deep while getting 21.9 Free Throws per 48 minutes.  When he sat, they shot 43.2% and 34.4% and got 21.7 Free throws per 48 minutes.  In fact, the only stat that indicates better defense is that teams managed 2 fewer shot attempts per 48 minutes with him on the floor.  That’s it.
  • According to Basketballvalue.com, his Defensive Ratings have all been poor, with the teams he playing for giving up 2.7 less points with him off the floor than when he’s on it.
  • According to 82games.com, his opponent PER over the last four years has been 16.2, 16.7, 16.1 and 13.9. A PER of 15 is average, so generally, opposing players generate higher than normal offensive numbers against him.

Essentially, what metrics we have tell us Ariza is not an impactful defensive stopper, and may be a mediocre one.

Is Aminu?

  • According to the NBA’s secret superstats tool, when Aminu was playing, opponents shot 42.8% from the field and 31.4% from deep while getting 22.2 Free Throws per 48 minutes.  When he sat, they shot 45.8% and 31.3% and got 22.5 Free throws per 48 minutes.  Opponents got off 2 fewer shots per 48 minutes as well.
  • According to Basketballvalue.com, Aminu’s Defensive Rating was decent even as a rookie, reducing opponent scoring by 1.58 points per 100 posessions, and this past season he was a monster, reducing opponent scoring by a team-best 6.74 points.
  • According to 82games.com, his opponent PER as a rookie was a ppor 17.0.  This year it improved to 14.9.

The numbers seem to give Aminu the edge.

Rebounding

Lastly, I wanted to point something out I’ve said on the podcast before.  There is no player on the Hornets last season who impacted rebounding rates as much as Al-Farouq Aminu.  In fact, the team rebound rates swung wildly, with the overall rebound rate being 48.8% when Aminu stepped off the floor – and 52.8% while on it.  To put that in perspective, that’s a swing from the 25th “best” rebound rate in the league to the 3rd.  No one else on the team can lay claim to that sort of swing, with the closest being Landry and Xavier Henry, who improved the rebound rate by about half that amount.  Not Kaman.(-.6%) impact)  Not Okafor.(-.9%)  Not Ayon(+.2%) or Smith.(+.6%) Aminu.  Here’s a further breakdown:

Offensive Rebounding
When Aminu wasn’t playing, the offensive rebound rate was 25.8%, which would equate to the 8th worst rate in the league.  (The league average was 27.5%)  When Aminu played, the team averaged an offensive rebound rate of 29.5%.  That rate would tie for 4th in the league.

Defensive Rebounding
When Aminu wasn’t playing, the team averaged an defensive rebound rate of 71.7%, which equates to the 6th worst rate in the league.  (The league average was 73.1%)  When Aminu played, the team averaged an defensive rebound rate of 74.7%.  That rate would have been the 7th best in the league.

In the end, 4 of the top 5 lineups that played more than a few minutes together for the Hornets last season contained Al-Farouq Aminu – and those five line-ups only had one other consistent feature:  Greivis Vasquez (who was actually in all five of the best lineups.  We’ll get to him in the next analysis post).  Outside of Vasquez, those line-ups contained a real mishmash of players(Gordon, Smith, Belinelli, Ayon, Landry Dyson, Okafor). so it’s very difficult to give credit to other players for that success.  At the highest level, the team with Ariza gave up 6.1 more points per 100 posessions than they scored.  With Aminu, they gave up 1.1 more points per 100 posession than they scored.  The team averaged giving up 3.7 more points per 100 posessions than they scored.  So, essentially, when Ariza played the Hornets got worse.  When Aminu played the Hornets got better. (Not good! Better.)

So Aminu is probably better than Ariza right now, and is still learning the game.  That is why the Hornets traded Ariza.

That is why the Hornets won’t miss Ariza.

(That is also why the Hornets are probably looking for an upgrade. #debbiedowner)

What do you think?  Are you fine with Aminu stepping into Ariza’s shoes?  Sound off in the comments!

68 comments
Jordy
Jordy

I believe Aminu is improving. Check out his stats from the FIBA Olympic Qualifier Tournament. In 2 games averaging 26 minutes, here are the stats (avg): 13pts, 6 rebs, 37.5% FG, 50% 3pt FG, 2 Asts. Since FIBA 3s are shorter than NBA 3s, you can probably say that most of his 3s were actually long 2s. So if you combine those stats, his FG% is 43.8. That's not too bad. Now I know international competition isn't NBA competition, and the rules allow for a little different style of play. He's young and improving, and playing internationally only adds to his experience.

Ben
Ben

When is the CBA part 2 thing coming out and when it does can it please explain what needs to happen for a sign and trade (like Does Gordon need to agree with the team). Can it go over matching and stuff like that. Cause I think we're all confused.

Josh
Josh

Yahoo is reporting that we will MATCH the offer.

mojart
mojart

hornets will have a meeting with EG before deciding to match the offer....wow...i smell trade here....^^,

Josh
Josh

If he doesn't sign the sheet, it would be best for us to do a 3-4 team deal. Many people are incorrectly stating that his heart is in Phoenix (including himself), but I'm pretty sure his heart his where he his (Los Angeles).

Jo D
Jo D

I don't think Gortat + Marshall (and throw ins) is enough to ease the pain of a Gordon loss... If he signs the offer sheet, just match... If he accepts qualifying offer, then look to trade him to highest bidder.. But gortat and marshall doesn't do it for me

J
J

Gordon said his heart is in Phoenix.I wonder where we heard that type of line before.

Josh
Josh

We really shouldn't be worried. If Gordon really wanted to sign with Phoenix he would have asked for them to do a sign-and-trade. Now he can't be traded to them since he will sign a contract with them (the 11th). If he signs the qualifying offer, that will be fine because we can choose whom to trade him for. We can't sign-and-trade with Phoenix because he will sign an offer sheet. In the new CBA, a restricted free agent that signs an offer sheet with the team can not be signed and traded to that team if his previous team matches the offer. So we can not sign-and-trade him to Phoenix. That may be good because they have next to no assets. I woudn't want Marshall with 3 other rookies. Lopez and Gortat are long-term options. I don't remember if we can sign-and-trade him to another team, though.

Chuck
Chuck

Wow, how convincing were the Suns guys? Does he have any connection to Phoenix or even that entire region, does anyone know? Does ESPN have a sign-and-trade machine?

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Here's the deal: He agreed to sign the sheet. He didn't sign it. Once he signs it, we have 3 days to match. If we do, we have him at their deal (max), he can NEVER be traded by us to Phoenix, and can veto a trade in his first year (and his last year for completely different reasons). He can get traded to someone who can send him to Phoenix, I think, but that's pretty risky on his part. He could sign the QO, as noted above, and just force his way out at risk. If he just signs with us without signing their sheet, I THINK we can do a sign-and trade. We can also do a sign-then-trade to give time for Phoenix to build a deal for us. If his heart is in Phoenix, then we need to renounce him and just get under the cap, or he WON'T sign the deal. I think. Thoughts?

mojart
mojart

BREAKING NEWS...ERIC GORDON SIGN A MAX DEAL WITH THE SUNS...he does'nt want to be here according to the report.....now lets get marshall and dudley and gortat in a S&T...........

Mickey Chatman
Mickey Chatman

Truly hurts my heart. Really wish people played the game cause they loved it.....not just cause they can get a fat check.....now that I'm pass that. I say sign and trade for Marshall, Gortat, and Dudley. Should lessen the blow

Josh
Josh

NNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Mickey Chatman
Mickey Chatman

Gordon just said he wants to play In Phoenix not here.......

Peedee
Peedee

Trevor Ariza was a starter who had to check the best players on the opposing team for every team he's ever played for. Numbers dont lie but Stats dont tell the entire truth.

kfte
kfte

Great article,you did an excellent job on breaking down both players. I felt that AFA didn't have confidence in his shot.Hence I am pretty sure he took less shots then any of the starters. I felt that Monty should have told him if he didn't take a certain number of shots per game then his minutes would be reduced. If you fear failure you will never be a good shooter. I think Darius has an advantage over AFA when it comes to shooting. It's sure good to see some intelligent bloggers today.You guys, for the most part, seem to think before you blog, NOLA .com has alot of clueless bloggers.

mojart
mojart

u are talking about a guy that is 22 years old and compare him to a 26 or 27 year old guy that is already a veteran in this league wid a championship ring under his belt....give AFA a chance.....be patient...time will tell......i don't care about the PER or whatsoever stats as long as he is doing his job on the court....and that is DEFENSE, REBOUNDING, ENERGY and his HUSTLE....

J
J

This just in Rockets SG Courtney Lee is now an unresticted free agent

Josh
Josh

I think that we definitely need to give Aminu starter's minutes this year. We have to decide if he is our small forward of the future this year because we have a team option next year. I would also give Henry some minutes but not as many to Darius Miller because he will be under a longer contract. I hope we don't try to overpay free agents that won't help our future.

James McPherson
James McPherson

Great article; it really challenges the notion that Ariza was an integral part of this team's success (well, success VERY loosely-defined, that is). I look forward to AFA getting a chance to grow with solid minutes and a settled lineup. What kind of production did Lance Thomas contribute vs. Ariza/AFA?

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

When I look at this team I'm looking at what it is we can do to not just be playoff caliber, but title caliber. What that said Aminu is an engima to me. On one hand he has the prototype NBA body tall and long for his position, is very athletic and pretty par from a skillset for a 3. He's come along way from the beginning of the year in terms of his confidence level and decision making. However he a very inconsistent shooter and still remains a below average decision maker. AFA is still very young and is still at a point in his career where the "light" going off in his head is very possible. Though it rarely happens. I'd rather not bet on Aminu, but at the same time I'm not completely aganist giving up on his potential. He's the one young pup we have from last year that I feel could be a key contributor on a championship level squad. All things consider I would rather hit the reset on our young nucleus, but if we kept AFA as the future SF I don't think that's a decision that will hurt us much in the long run.

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

I really like the fact that Darius Miller will be competing for the job so its just not handed to AFA after Trevor was traded, I love to see competition with in a team, I think it pushes both players to their max

Ron
Ron

The distances between AFA's numbers, Ariza's and the league averages are just too small to get me excited. Rankings are meaningless when the distances between data points are small. Better to use quartiles or quintiles.

New Beginning
New Beginning

But, does it take into account that Ariza was playing against starters and Aminu was playing against subs.

Al
Al

Nice article. Good research. But I wouldn't put much weight on those defensive statistics. It doesn't give much as far as how each individual played his opponent. Advanced stats can be very sketchy. You can make them say whatever you want. Ariza has a league-wide reputation for being a good defender, and there is reason for that. Much like how people used the "stats are better when Bosh is off the court" argument for Miami, most expert analyst will tell you that is an overrated stat.

Jordan J.
Jordan J.

When Ariza shot the ball (especially threes) my immediate reaction was "Nooooo!" When Aminu shot the ball (anywhere) my immediate reaction was "Please go in, for his sake, please go in." I like Aminu more :)

Riley Adams
Riley Adams

Just curious: Wasn't Ariza routinely placed on the best offensive player of the opposing team? I thought I remember him being placed on Kobe in the last Hornets playoff series and him covering the likes of LeBron earlier this season. I'm not sure if this is included when comparing Ariza and Aminu, but it should be considered if trying to compare the two players' defensive performances ceteris paribus.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

It was done. Now I have to see. I covered what the Hornets could do to rid themselves of a Gordon contract if he was `unloadable', what the cap situation is, and the idea of a "Nick Collison" deal. Gordon has to agree to the trade, so he can veto a sign and trade. The matching stuff is more complicated, but I'll work on something. Promise.

Josh
Josh

Got that right.

mojart
mojart

his heart is in phoenix....but his a** is in new orleans.....^^,

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

He will sign it? Lots can change, especially if he can get there if he doesn't sign and not get there if he can.

Chuck
Chuck

My guess is that Phoenix won't actually have him SIGN the contract until they discuss sign-and-trade options if they really want to get him. I'm sure they really do want him because they need someone to build the team around now that Nash is (most likely) gone. If he never actually signs the offer sheet, which he can't do until July 11, then he can still be signed-and-traded. Even if they agreed, to the terms of the contract, until something is physically signed it doesn't hold up under the CBA...please someone correct me if I'm wrong on this.

Ben
Ben

Atta boy. So obviously gordons heart ISN'T in Phoenix.

Chuck
Chuck

Twitter just reminded me about the Suns' supernatural training staff. It makes a lot more sense now. His heart isn't in Phoenix, but his wrists and knees are.

Josh
Josh

Is Joe going to write a post on this so we can all have a 500-comment argument?

504ever
504ever

Mickey, He said he would sign Phoenix's offer sheet, which we can match. How do you expect him to discuss that? I just signed the Sun's offer to get N.O. to match and pay me more than they offered me during the season? This story isn't over yet. (And I am a guy who want the Hornets to sign and trade him due to his injury risk. I wish the story was over.)

Wade
Wade

Yes, Ariza routinely checked the other teams best wing player. One thing I'll give AFA though is he plays tough D.

macs21
macs21

Matching is irrelevant if teams are under the cap isn't it? For teams that are over the cap (or if one is over the cap) then you can't take back more than 150% (+100K) of what you give away. I believe in the old CBA it was 125% (also +100K.) ALternatively its 100% + 5mil, whichever ends up being the greater number. So in the case of NOH trading with PHO I don't think the cap would come into any prospective trades because they are both way under the cap.

Josh
Josh

Thank you ever so much.

Josh
Josh

Well, I believe his heart is in Los Angeles right now because that's where he met the Suns.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

The post is done, but we are doing 10 comma checks. I see the post . . .

Tyler Troncoso
Tyler Troncoso

But he also said he hopes we don't match and that his heart isn't here. I hope we get rid of him. Get him out of here if he doesn't want to be here.

Mickey Chatman
Mickey Chatman

Prefer Dudley over Morris cause of experience. But I would take Lopez over Gortat.

Gustopher
Gustopher

Marshall, sign-and-trade Robin Lopez, Markeiff Morris and a 1st. If we're going to talk wants, let's want more.

504ever
504ever

Ryan, I am not sure starting late in the season, when tanking is common equals starting earlier. Also, I don't believe Ariza's PER this year is a fluke, or that missed shots help your PER. (Hollinger agrees with me about missed shots. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&id=2850240) But I don't want to lose sight of my main points: - Ariza is better but maxed out his talent; - AFA is worse but has potential to improve, especially with a Hornets summer and training camp; and - the trade of Ariza makes sense to give AFA minutes, especially against starters, and a chance to grow.

Ryan Schwan
Ryan Schwan

Aminu played more minutes than Ariza did last season - and more minutes as a starter overall. The theory that Ariza played against better competition is false. I'm not sure why people think Ariza passes the Eye test either. For two years, that caused me to cringe every time he touched the ball. Aminu makes me cringe too. You see, everyone seems to think I'm saying Ariza was an F player and Aminu is a B+ and will get better! In my opinion, Aminu is a D+ player who could improve. Ariza is a D player who will not. Therefore, we will not miss Ariza.

504ever
504ever

Completely agree with the two posts above, and the fact, pointed out further above, that Ariza's PER is 4 points higher than AFA's. In addition, to me Ariza was a much better player than AFA in every way under the eye test. To put it another way: Maybe Ariza's high PER against starters is corelated with the eye test. (Maybe many of the specific advanced stats used in the article are skewed by AFA playing against backups so often.) I am not against AFA. It's just that right now I see him as a player with the length and skill set of a PF, not a SF. That doesn't mean AFA can't grow into the skill set of a SF. He might, and he needs a chance to get at least one summer and training camp with the Hornets under his belt. But right now, there is no way you can say AFA is anything but significantly worse than Ariza, with the hope of improving. Whereas Ariza's skills are basically set. What you see from Ariza is what you will get in the future. The potential for future improvement in AFA, not his current production, is the non-financial reason why I think Ariza was traded.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

If the team adding salary ends up under the cap, it's irrelevant.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] In a Western Conference that will see the Hornets face the likes of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant many times, the Hornets could use Aminu in the lineup to hinder the league’s best scorers. Last season, opponents shot 42.8 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from behind the arc. He also reduced opponent scoring by nearly seven points per game when he was on the court. [...]

  2. [...] Then, Ryan chimed in again, 2 years after his pre-draft post: [...]