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Trail Blazers Now Without “Unlikely Hero” Al-Farouq Aminu (Ankle)

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Basketball Insiders highlights the forward’s early impact on Portland’s season.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday night’s loss to the Jazz didn’t just impact the Trail Blazers’ record; they lost forward Al-Farouq Aminu to an ankle sprain, and spoiler alert: it doesn’t look good. But the impact Aminu had on the floor in the beginning of the season was hard to turn a blind eye to. Peter Sampson here at Blazer’s Edge even detailed how Aminu became Portland’s third-best player.

Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders pegged the forward as an “Unlikely Hero” to begin the season:

Aminu had a career year in 2016 during his first season in Portland, but battled injuries in 2017 which led to a disappointing campaign. However, Aminu appears to have rebounded early on and is connecting on 42 percent of his three pointers (career-high) and is a nightly double-double threat.

Aminu joins players like Patrick Beverly, former Blazer Jamal Crawford and former Duck Dillon Brooks, on Greene’s list of early surprises.

Aminu is averaging 9.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game this season. His eye-popping 43.3 percent 3-point shooting is a vast departure from his career mark of 32.7 percent. Aminu was averaging a career-best 30.1 minutes per game in his eight games, making it clear that if he can produce, he’ll stay on the court.

The forward has rebounding totals of 16, 12, and 7 (x2) already this season, and point totals of 19, 16 and 10. His 19-point performance included a 5-of-8 showing from beyond the arc.

It is yet to be determined how long Aminu will be out, but we do know he will miss Thursday night’s game against the Lakers:

Meyers Leonard was just sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a sprain of his own, and both two-way players — Wade Baldwin and CJ Wilcox — are out with thumb and knee surgery, respectively.

One hope for the Blazers’ starting lineup presents itself in Noah Vonleh, who just came back from a shoulder injury sustained in training camp. The Vonleh-Jusuf Nurkic frontcourt showed success last year, and Nurk’s struggles may improve if paired with Vonleh once again.

For now, we await an official timeline for return on Aminu’s injury, and eagerly watch for the next man up to contribute in his absence.