Heading into the 2017-18 NBA regular season, naming the three best players in the Portland Trail Blazers lineup was easy: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic. Anyone old enough to string three syllables together could have done it. Except that for the first three weeks of the season, it hasn’t worked out that way. Forward Al-Farouq Aminu has stolen into that third spot, defending and hitting three-pointers with abandon to provide solid support for Portland’s starting guards on both ends of the court. Aminu got national notice for his accomplishments this week as Lang Green of basketballinsiders.com listed him among the league’s unlikely heroes.
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.
Other surprising contributors from around the league include Domantas Sabonis of the Indiana Pacers, Dwight Howard of the Charlotte Hornets, and Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Aminu has been receiving local recognition as well. Our own Peter Sampson explained how he’s become such a prominent part of the lineup last week.
Aminu is currently sidelined with an ankle sprain. The big question for Portland: will anyone be able to fill his shoes, particularly on the defensive end?
Who is your candidate to become the next unlikely hero for the Blazers in Aminu’s absence?