Much has been made about Al-Farouq Aminu and his newfound 3-point shooting ability with the Portland Trail Blazers. But how far has he really come, where does he fit into Terry Stotts’ offense, and what impact will he have moving forward?
This is the subject of the first weekly video breakdown series I'll be doing here at Blazersedge.
If some of you don't remember me from years past, I did a similar series two years ago that can be viewed (mostly) in its entirety at the old Playbook Breakdown link.
Big thanks to Dave and the crew for having me back. If you want to make a suggestion about what you might want to see covered, let me know in the comments. I'll have a new video for you every week, and I'd love to know what you want to see.
Let's get into it with our man Chief.
Aminu has made an 8 percent leap in 3-point accuracy over last year. He’s sitting at a respectable 35 percent in 2015-16, an impressive mark considering his track record.
Even further, he's made that improvement all while taking more threes than he's ever taken per-possession. This increase in 3-point rate -- the percentage of field goal attempts that are threes -- is due in part to coach Terry Stotts.
Stotts' flow offense relies on weaving pick-and-rolls and strong-side attacks by guards while weak side wings angle for 3-pointers.
Both Wes Matthews and Nicolas Batum had their 3-point rate increase in their first year under Terry Stotts without a dip in their percentage, and Aminu appears to be falling in line.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are far and away the best backcourt Aminu has ever played with, and while they wreak havoc on help defenses, it has left Aminu open for 3-pointers.
He told Blazersedge that he basically has the green light, and this year he’s playing a lot more small forward than he did in Dallas the season before. Stotts has done an excellent job defining a role for Aminu on offense, and it's paying off.
Aminu worked with Mahmoud Abdul Rauf over the summer, but failed to mention what he worked on specifically. Looking at film from years prior, it appears that he's tried to either cull or tone down the sway in his shot in order to make it more repeatable.
Now, if you don’t know what sway is, it’s usually back-to-front movement of the legs on a jump shot. It's a mechanic that is taught to shooters in order to create arc on their shot.
Aminu appeared to be pretty spotty with his technique last season in Dallas, and in side-by-side comparisons it looks like he's toned down his sway a little bit to make his motion more manageable.
Put it this way: He's got more of a Wes Matthews hop than a Gerald Green jump.
When it comes to how Aminu gets most of his threes, it's really about playing the role of cleanup man. A significant portion of his his made buckets come when Lillard or McCollum are driving to the hole, or when teams collapse on the passing bigs in Mason Plumlee and Meyers Leonard.
That being said, we do see him in familiar sets.
In this HORNs play, he’s in the far left hand corner. CJ McCollum starts the action by passing to the right post, then cuts across a backscreen to set a downpick for Aminu in the corner.
By this time, Mason Plumlee has flipped around and is getting ready to set a pick for Aminu as he streaks to the elbow extended.
The Nuggets can’t figure out the interchange, and Aminu hits from deep.
He’s also active and efficient in the flare in and handoff plays we’ve seen since Stotts became coach.
In the play above, we have Aminu in the right corner with Plumlee setting the downscreen. He then receives the pass as McCollum fights through his own screen on the opposite side.
Plumlee then comes up and set a screen for Aminu to the elbow, and Aminu uses a v-cut to pop back to the arc for the jumper.
So what’s the takeaway here? First, the hard work paid off for Aminu this summer and he’s absolutely in the right system. That being said, he still needs to get better. He’s surprisingly abysmal on threes where he’s wide open (6+ feet) and while his overall percentage is a great improvement, if he can move to above league average he’ll be an even better value to his team.
Remember, Aminu is still just 25 years old and he gets paid $7.5 million per year through 2019. By the time the salary cap goes up he’ll be one of the best bargain players in the NBA.
What I'm saying is, shoot your shot, Chief.
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