The Best Way To Fix The Trail Blazers? Empower Al-Farouq Aminu
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
“I never forget we had a game in Miami like [three]years ago,” Lillard said about Aminu, whom the Blazers refer to as “Chief.” “He had 16 points in the first half, and he was the best player we had on offense, and in the second half, he got one shot. […] After the game, I didn’t know until I looked at [the box score], I was like, ‘This dude is killing it and we didn’t even let him get the ball.’ But if I hadn’t noticed it, he would have never said anything. I think that sums up who he is. […] It’s the best part about him.”
From The Ringer
In his time as a Blazer since 2015, Aminu has had a lot of these nights where he quietly will drop 20 but would never be the one to tell you after the game. For almost his whole career, he’s averaged just under two three-pointers a game and the reliability has continued this year at 1.3 threes per contest. But the real jump is his 2-point percentage; Aminu is shooting 56 percent from the field on two-pointers while still averaging his 9.3 points. The catch is, you wouldn’t know any of this if you didn’t look at the stat lines.
Al-Farouq’s outside shooting has always been welcomed, but his defensive edge is what the Blazers and fans alike underestimated. Since joining the team, Aminu has averaged over six defensive rebounds a game and the big guy usually manages a steal too. On paper, he seems to be everything the Blazers (and the league) want in a stretch 3/4 now; defense and a shot from outside while he can still take it to the rack. So why has Chief not developed into the best secret weapon we have?
Before beating the Suns last week, the Blazers were looking at six losses in the last seven games. If that win hadn’t happened, I do believe someone’s job would be on the line. Without jinxing the situation, it felt like it wouldn’t be the backcourt on the chopping block for this round of ‘blow-it-up’ conversations; it felt like Terry Stotts—the coach with the fourth-longest running tenure—was feeling the fingers starting to point elsewhere. I have to wonder, if Aminu hasn’t felt encouraged to repeat those nights when he has flashes of greatness at both ends, maybe that’s the sign of a bigger leadership problem at hand.
Damian is the default leader and has been somewhat in tandem with Stotts since his draft in 2012. While the two are some of the most laidback personalities in the league, Stotts was comfortable to handle a lot of media as the face of the team. But when Aminu goes off for 16 in a half and doesn’t get the ball more than once after that, that’s not a point guard’s fault—that’s a coach not letting you be aware of what he sees from his seat too.
Empowering the guy who wouldn’t brag about his own contributions to his own team—that’s Stotts’ job. And if he doesn’t figure that out, I would only assume—in a league where defensive wings are equivalent to gold—there’s a coach willing to invest in Al-Farouq Aminu more than Portland was.
- Portland Trail Blazers’ Salary Commitments
- Portland Trail Blazers-Inspired Adult Beverages That Should Exist In Rip City
- Portland Trail Blazers: Will Jusuf Nurkic Kickstart A Second Half Surge?
- Portland Trail Blazers’ Aminu to Participate in First NBA Game in Africa
- Portland Trail Blazers Weekend Preview & Predictions – 1/30
- Portland Trail Blazers Week Preview – Feb. 25
- Portland Trail Blazers Week Preview – 4/6
- Portland Trail Blazers Week Preview – Dec. 9
- Portland Trail Blazers’ Playoff Heat Check: January Edition
- Terry Stotts The Right Fit for the Portland Trail Blazers
- The Best and Worst Drafts in Trail Blazers History
- The Chicago Cubs Have What the Trail Blazers Want
- The Portland Trail Blazers Begin Summer League Play This Weekend
- Synergy Over Seeding For The Trail Blazers Down the Home Stretch
- So Far, Odds Makers Not Betting On Trail Blazers
- Portland Trail Blazers’ Playoff Path Continues To Pave Itself