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

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, 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, 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, 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, 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.


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!


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