Through the first six games of the Portland Trail Blazers’ season, Al-Farouq Aminu has become a sort of third scorer behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The sixth-year forward is presently the only other Blazer to average double-digit scoring. His 13.7 points per game is far and away a career-high – more than double his offensive production with the Dallas Mavericks last season (5.6 ppg). Mike Richman of The Oregonian points toward Head Coach Terry Stotts’ coaching philosophy as a catalyst for this sudden improvement:
This Blazers season is largely about developing a young roster and giving players a chance to expand their games, "empowering" them as Stotts terms it. Aminu is one of the central figures of this empowerment. Stotts likened Aminu's potential growth to the improvement of Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum during Stotts' first season in Portland in 2012-13.
One aspect of Aminu’s game that has seen surprising development (the usual sample size qualifier applying) is 3-point shooting. Aminu is shooting from deep between three and four times per game, making those shots at a 42.9 percent clip. He is now 9-21 on the season. Considering that the last time he crested 30.0 percent on 3-point attempts was his rookie year, this season’s leap will likely still be considered massive after a measurable cool-off. In Stotts’ offense, though, reasonable production could certainly be sustainable.
Beyond scoring, Aminu has not only impressed with the high-level defense we expect from him, but with an uptick in rebounding. He leads the team in this category, averaging 8.7 rebounds per game. By rounding out his ever improving strengths with a new scoring efficiency, Aminu could become Portland’s most versatile role player. It would not be the first time a Blazer has reached new heights with help and free reign to do so.