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Al-Farouq Aminu Changes the Way the Trail Blazers Play

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Once an offensive liability, Portland’s forward now bends the court with his three-point shooting.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Al-Farouq Aminu has not been considered an offensive powerhouse during his eight-year NBA career. He’s only averaged 10 ppg once. His overall field goal percentage is mediocre. But the 2017-18 season has brought a renaissance for the Portland Trail Blazers forward. A shiny, new 40% success rate from the three-point arc has turned him into a weapon, a floor-stretcher that opposing teams leave open at their own peril.

Spencer Lund, writing for RealGM, dove deep into the Aminu Effect in an article replete with statistical comparisons and video illustrations. Lund begins by citing the apparent rise in Aminu’s assurance level.

The biggest thing for him now is confidence. A few misfires to start a game shouldn’t dissuade him from continuing to shoot, a huge step for any shooter, but particularly one who struggles with inconsistency. There have already been signs he’s turned that confidence corner.

He claims that opposing teams are slow to catch up with Aminu’s new reality.

But does his improved accuracy and confidence this year mean his defender stays home when Dame [Lillard] or C.J. McCollum is snaking around a high screen and forcing the defense to collapse? Or, if Jusuf Nurkic catches a pocket pass and has a 4-on-3 with Aminu in one of the corners? At over 40 percent from beyond the arc, it’s looking more and more likely––this year at least––he’ll make defenses pay if they continue to slack off. But, for the time being, he’s still getting open looks.

Lund then gives an extensive video review of Aminu’s performance versus the Houston Rockets Tuesday night, comparing it favorably to more traditional shooters Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and Trevor Ariza. He concludes:

If that continues, the perception about him will catch up to the reality. Either that, or Portland gets performances like the one he gave on Tuesday night––except with Dame and CJ shushing nylon again.

Aminu is averaging 9.5 points on a career-high 4.8 three-point attempts per game for the Blazers this year. Odds are that the shift in perception Lund is looking for—amounting to respect for Aminu’s ability to win games for Portland with his shooting—will only come around after the Blazers have taken a playoff series or two with him as a significant contributor.