Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu (calf) scrimmaged during the team's Friday practice, but will still be held out of Saturday's match-up against the Miami Heat, according to multiple reports.
Terry Stotts said Al-@farouq1 Aminu did practice today but that he is OUT for tomorrow's game vs. Miami— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 2, 2016
Aminu has appeared in only eight of Portland's 20 games so far this season and hasn't played since November 8. The Blazers have gone 5-7 in his absence. He led Portland in several statistical categories prior to the injury. During this stretch, the Blazers have had the worst defense in the league, according to NBA.com. It's not even close.
Damian Lillard was asked by reporters how Aminu looked in the scrimmage.
Damian Lillard on Al-Farouq Aminu's return to practice: "He looked good. He was making shots, he was moving well."— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) December 2, 2016
The stretch without Aminu has confirmed what we already knew: he is Portland's best defensive player. But the extent to which Portland's defensive performance has dropped off has been astonishing. According to NBA.com, the Blazers have a defensive rating of 103.1 when Aminu is on the court and 112.1 when he's is not.
In the 12 games that Aminu has missed, the Blazers defensive rating is a disgusting 113.5.
In a small sample size, Aminu's presence has been the difference between an average defense and a historically bad defense. Even while including the games that Aminu has played in, their current defensive rating rivals the worst defensive ratings in NBA history. They still have over 3/4 of a season to change that. But in the meantime, "historically bad" is a fair way to describe the team's defense up to this point; not hyperbole.
With all of that knowledge, it should be no surprise that the Blazers are being extra cautious with Aminu's return. They really, really need him.