Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu discussed what it was like to learn from experienced veterans like Richard Jefferson during his time with the Mavericks in a piece by Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders. Aminu played in Dallas for one season in 2014-15, during a time when the Mavs boasted several talented veterans: Jefferson, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, and others. But it was Jefferson who left his imprint on Aminu.
“We was talking about different players and he was telling me,” Aminu described. “He was like, ‘Ah, from a coach standpoint, this guy – I wouldn’t take him over this guy because I’d rather know what I’m getting every night then to get something sporadic.’
“He was like, ‘Man, I’d rather be a guy who the coach knows exactly every night what they’re gonna get than to be a guy that’s up and down, that might get 20 one night and two the next night.’ I knew I took that to heart when he told me that. And I remember that stuck out to me.”
Aminu goes on to explain how important consistency is to his style of play, especially on defense. The Blazers have come to rely on Chief to use his length to harass opposing players, and his teammates applaud his devotion to his craft.
“I think he’s been consistent with his work ethic,” McCollum told Basketball Insiders. “I think he’s been consistent with his approach every day. Improving his jump shot from when he first got into the league to now being a guy who can shoot 36, 37 percent from three.
“And his defensive versatility and understanding who he is—being able to guard multiple positions, being able to rebound – I think all those things are reasons why he’s had success and why he’s a key part of our team.”
Aminu recognizes that work ethic is what makes the difference for his style of play in an ever-changing league. There is no doubt that it shows on the court: in recent games, Chief has been a steady presence, especially against the Cavaliers and the Celtics. Quietly, he may be the player who helps motivate the Blazers down the stretch.
You can read Davies’ full story at Basketball Insiders.