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Free Agent Wings: Al-Farouq Aminu

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Portland’s forward enters the free agent market and offers a unique skill set compared to other wings.

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings are in need of some wings to beef up their bench depth, assuming Harrison Barnes opts in to his current deal or restructures his contract. Corey Brewer, who eventually became the primary backup to Barnes after being acquired, is also a free agent so the Kings are thin at the position.

Al-Farouq Aminu’s contract of four years for $30 million comes to an end in Portland and he has a different skill set from the previous wings I’ve written about. He started in all 81 games he played in this season, except for the season finale against Sacramento.

The 28-year-old forward played 28.3 minutes a game and averaged 9.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 43.3 percent field goal shooting and 34.3 percent from deep. His true shooting percentage of 56.8 was a career high, despite his shot chart representing the opposite.

NBA.com

Aminu is only green in one area of the field, but it was an area of a minimal amount of attempts. He’s barely above league average on above the break threes coming from the left and is almost at league average when less than eight feet from the rim, as well as shots from the right corner.

In the restricted area, Aminu was 60.4 percent on 222 attempts which is where the most of his shots come from. Everywhere else on the floor, Aminu shoots less than 35.4 percent in various areas which is concerning considering that Kings could use a more consistent shooter.

One of the main faults in his game was his inconsistency on offense, particularly on his shooting.

Al-Farouq Aminu’s shooting stats

Game Shooting Percentage
Game Shooting Percentage
@ SAC 3-8 37.50%
vs CLE 6-7 85.70%
vs NO 4-12 33.30%
@ UTAH 4-6 66.70%
@ OKC 1-7 14.30%
@ PHX 3-5 60%
ESPN

Looking at just one specific six game stretch between January 14th to the 24th, Aminu’s shooting numbers fluctuated game after game - and it wasn’t the only stretch of games where it happened either.

If there’s one team that is accustomed to dealing with an inconsistent player, it’s definitely the Kings.

However, Aminu was a really good free throw shooter. He shot 86.7 percent from the line, making 1.9 out of 2.1 attempts a game. Last season, he shot 73.8 percent from the stripe so he improved massively as he got to the line more frequently, too.

Aminu made 94 three pointers on the season and one thing you easily notice when watching them was he’s a catch and shoot guy. He doesn’t create his own shots, but gets into his spots and awaits the pass when he has a good look. Aminu attempted 3.2 catch and shoot threes a game, making 1.1 for a 35.8 percent rate and 44.2 percent of his overall attempts from three were catch and shoots.

Another strength of Aminu’s game was his rebounding, which he grabbed at 7.5 a game. He had a defensive rebounding percentage of 22.6, which was the third best on Portland (min. 20 games).

Out of the 7.5 rebounds he hauled in, 5.2 of them were uncontested and 68.4 percent of his rebounds came with no contesting rebounds in range.

Compared to last season, opponents guarded by Aminu fared much better this season. Opponents shot 40 percent from three when Aminu was defending and 54.2 percent on two point shots.

Last season, those numbers were 34.6 from three and 49.6 from two when Aminu was defending.

However, Aminu still has great strength and length to guard at the perimeter. In the clip above, he completely shuts down the smaller Bradley Beal, forcing the shot creator to pass the ball.

In this clip, Aminu picks up Nikola Mirotic out on the perimeter and Mirotic puts his head down and tries to drive in. Aminu matches Mirotic’s speed with great lateral movements and his chest is right with Mirotic’s shoulder, eventually having his hands up and blocking the shot.

Aminu posted 2.8 defensive win shares on the season, a minor decrease from his 3.2 mark last year. He also had a defensive box plus/minus of 0.8 which last season was 1.9.

There’s still plenty to like in Aminu’s defense, but his efficiency has declined this season.

Portland was big plus with Aminu on the floor throughout the four years he’s played there, with the last season being the best in terms of +/- per 100 possessions on the floor, which Aminu was a +8.1. It was the second highest on the Blazers behind Jusuf Nurkic.

If the Kings were to sign Aminu, they would be getting a guy who can play the 3 and 4 on the court, but Aminu hasn’t played significant minutes at the three since the 2015-16 season. The last three years, Aminu spent more than 95 percent of his minutes at the 4, but still possesses the length and size to defend the 3.

With Aminu’s previous contract holding an average salary of $7,500,000, I’d offer the 28-year-old a three year, $30 million contract based on what I’ve seen. A major question I have is would Aminu leave a key starting role on a playoff team for a bench role on a team fighting for playoff contention, which is also the problem with Danny Green?

The 6’9” forward is still a plus defender and rebounds at a solid rate, but his shooting doesn’t convince me topped with the realistic aspect of him accepting a bench role. The Blazers could choose to move on, but I’d bet Aminu would want a bigger role elsewhere if that was the case.