SF Prospect: Al-Farouq Aminu (Signed)

Published: July 5, 2013

Update: Reports are that Aminu has signed a 1 year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans for $3.7m. It is perhaps the maximum they could offer him, $3,749,601, the value of his declined option.

New Orleans Pelicans fans, at least the ones that were here before the Holiday and Evans trades, will be quite familiar with Al-Farouq Aminu. The tamest wildcard small forward in the NBA has been the subject of a number of articles here at Bourbon Street Shots, including this Season in Review piece written by your humble narrator. Please refer to it if you wish to read more on Al-Farouq.

The Basics

Height: 6’9″
Wingspan: 7’3″
Weight: 215 lbs.
Experience: 3 years
Age: 22
Teams: Clippers, “New Orleans”

Quick Hits

Good defender
Improved shooting
Great on breaks
Questionable Basketball IQ
Limited scorer
Elite rebounder


Aminu’s offense is very limited. Turning 23 this September, he’s one of the youngest 3 year veterans, and it shows in his offense. If Aminu has to to put the ball on the floor to get his shot, someone needs to get back on defense. For all of this athletic gifts, his indecisiveness and imprecision lead to busted plays and turnovers far too often.

I said at the start of the 2012-2013 Season that Aminu’s instructions should be something like this:

When the ball is passed to you, either take the ball to the basket if you have a clear lane or just shoot it without hesitation.

Anything else leads to badness.

His actual instructions, as it turned out, included a decent flavor of the above, and he was rewarded with the highest TS% of his career . . . which is about average.

A hidden component of his offense fits very well with what Monty has dangled in front of now-Pelicans fans for some time: Running. Aminu is a monster on the break. His lone scoring gift seems to be to get to the rim when defenses are not set. His athleticism and proportions seem to give him a greater than expected advantage, and he scores well in such situations.

As a corollary, but importantly, his offensive rebounding is among the best at his position, and it seems to stem from the same gift. He can’t out-think set defenses enough to allow his athleticism to give him the scoring advantage one might hope, but when everyone is as confused as him, it looks like a legitimate NBA star.

This lasts for about 2 seconds, of course.

Put offense down as a literal non-starter.


Aminu is good defender at his position. His one-on-one defense is often quite good, but the slightly-too-high number of egregious lapses take him out of the coveted “very good” status. The team was so poor defensively this past season, he may not grade out in a foolhardy attempt at an apples-to-apples comparison of defensive prowess with known walking brick walls, but attention to detail shows that he both has what it takes and often brings the necessary effort.

As a team defender he, as mentioned above, also suffers from mental lapses and occasional bouts of laziness. This lessened as the season went on, particularly after being benched for a time midway through the year.

His bounceback from this shows some coachability that not everyone was convinced he had.

Overall, put defense down as a strength.

Rebounding Rates

Aminu has the highest TRB% of any small forward playing at least 500 minutes (this excludes only Tyler Honeycutt and his 32 minutes spread across 9 games), at 16.9%. This also puts him at 34th among the 344 NBA players logging at least 500 minutes, placing him in the top 10% of all such players. This clearly puts him higher than a large number of centers and power forwards, as well.

Restricting the conversation to DRB%, the picture is even better, as this is Aminu’s true strength. He’s still first among small forwards at 26.2%, good for 14th in the NBA, right at the top 4th percentile. Omri Casspi’s 22.7% places him second in the category, 35th overall. Kevin Durant (20.4%, 66th overall), Draymond Green (20.3%, 70th overall), Paul Pierce and Luke Babbit (19.7%, tied for 75th overall) finish up the list of small forwards that are not exceeded by Aminu in DRB% by at least one third. Paul George’s 19% (83rd overall) leads the rest of the small forwards.

Focusing on ORB%, Aminu is third among small forwards with 7.9%, 91st overall, which is just outside the top 25% of NBA players. The small forwards who grab the offensive rebounds at a higher rate are DeMarre Carroll (9.1%, 65th overall) and . . . Lance Thomas (9%, tied for 89th overall with Chris Kaman just ahead of Aminu). Dante Cunningham (7.8%, 97th overall), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (7.2%, tied for 109th overall), Maruice Harkless (7%, tied for 115th overall) are the only small forwards with ORB% over 7%.

The story holds nearly the same when per minute statistics are examined. The dude can rebound, and no one can take that away from him. Not in the slightest.

Moreover, he surged ahead in the defensive rebounding category this season. Again, this shows coachability (and perhaps an able coach). Given a role he can succeed in, he thrives.

Can it continue?

Shooting in Detail

Shooting Accuracy is detailed in the image below:

Notes from Chart

First, ignore that green bit. That’s a sample size thing.

Second, ignore that yellow island off in the corner. Same deal.

The bit around the basket is what you want to see. That’s where Aminu has to get to to be effective. As a 215 lb. small forward, he’ll never dominate there, but that’s where he’s best.

Which bring us to the number of shots taken. He’s clearly focusing on shots near the basket, which are more efficient, and it’s brought him up to average, as mentioned above. Here’s the proof, though.

If he can develop a more credible jumper, the breakdown for which you can not see on this chart at all, he can make teams pay for letting him float on the outside.

How He Fits

Aminu fits ok but has the potential to fit quite well. He’s a defender, a strong rebounder, and great when running. This is exactly what Monty claims he wants more of. He can’t just stop his development, however. He has to progress.

On the other side, the Pelicans have to decide if his progression in the past year, their estimates of his ceiling, and if they think he’ll make enough progress to make him worth not bringing in a new player and starting fresh.

Aside from the shooting, he can fit. If he can shoot from distance a little better, he will fit.

Why You Should Want Him To Sign

The reason anyone should want Aminu is his rebounding. If you target him for any other reason, disappointment is in order. He can manage to stay on the court due to his defense, particularly without fouling, as long as he’s not having one of those nights . . . and he will have a couple each season, even at his best.

He knows what Monty is trying to do and has worked with Anderson, Davis, and Gordon. A neutral-to-good relationship and familiarity with your key players has advantages that are hard to find a substitute for.

His lack of scoring historically coupled with a recent increase likely depresses the demand for him. Thus, he should come at a value.

Lastly, Mason heard he wants to remain in New Orleans. That does count.

Expected Contract

This has long been a subject of debate. Aminu has failed to live up to most expectations, so much so that he his team option for the upcoming season was declined.

Based on the current market for players, I’d suggest a 2 year deal, $2.6m in the first year, equivalent to the Room MLE, second year fully unguaranteed. This is a step back in salary for him, but the market is depressed, and he seems to be on no one’s radar.

He could be a short-time starter with a more offensively-minded-and-bodied player to pick up the slack. Perhaps Miller, perhaps another pickup.


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