RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Al-Farouq AminuPosted by rtmsf on June 14th, 2010
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Al-Farouq Aminu
School: Wake Forest
Height/Weight: 6’8, 216
NBA Position: Small Forward
Projected Draft Range: Mid-lottery
Overview: Al-Farouq Aminu is a player that every NBA scout has had on his radar since he came out of the Atlanta area two years ago, but despite two solid years in the ACC at Wake Forest, he has yet to make the leap to bonafide superstar that many anticipated at that time. In watching AFA play, you get a sense that he’s still often learning how to use his prodigious physical talents to his advantage, which makes sense when you consider that he’s still only 19 years old despite having two years of college ball under his belt. Aminu’s upside is tremendous with his size, athleticism and nose for the ball combining to leave scouts waiting for everything to come together, but the biggest barrier between him and NBA stardom will be his weak jumpshot. Still, despite having little in the way of a reliable offensive move to the basket at this stage of his career, he’s projected as a mid-lottery pick in next week’s draft because of the obvious possibility that he may explode in the next 3-5 years. There is a slight risk that the team selecting Aminu will eventually be left with a freakish athlete and not much else, but the stronger possibility given his obvious work ethic is that AFA will eventually become a second-tier star in the league, a double-double threat every night out from the small forward position.
Will Translate to the NBA: Aminu’s athleticism and length at the small forward slot are what NBA coaches covet, as he has the capability and potential to become a terror filling lanes on the break, a powerful rebounder from the wing and a devasting perimeter defender. Still only 19 years old, Aminu’s upside is what has him slotted into the top ten picks of the draft, in large part because if he ever figures out the shooting part of the game, he has the tools to become an eventual All-Star. His wingspan of 7’3 ensures that he’ll get his hands on boards that most players his size cannot, making Aminu a modern-day Shawn Marion clone (with an equally ugly jumper). Despite spending a fair amount of time on the perimeter in the Wake Forest offense, AFA was first in the ACC in rebounding (10.7 RPG) and was one of the very best in the nation at corralling second-chance opportunities for his team. Players with that particular skill are born, and Aminu will be one of the next undersized forwards to consistently outhustle the Lamar Odoms of the world to rebounds and loose balls.
Needs Work: Speaking of that jumper, Aminu cannot yet shoot the ball with any kind of consistency outside of ten feet. While his three-point percentage improved in his sophomore campaign from 18% to 27%, no opposing team had stopping AFA’s three-point attack at the top of their defensive priority list. There are also concerns about Aminu’s maturity level. At times last season and particularly as the wheels on the Wake Forest bus were coming off, AFA would seem to float through large portions of games, most notably in a zero-point, five-foul performance against Florida State during the last week of the regular season. He also fouled out of three other games and picked up four fouls in nine more, limiting his time on the floor and causing his team to suffer as a result. For him to reach his lofty potential, shooting drills and better concentration will have to be areas of improved focus.
Comparison Players: We mentioned Marion above as an example of a similarly sized player who had the athleticism and heart to regularly snare rebounds away from taller, bigger players. The key distinction is that, ugly as it was, Marion’s jumper became consistently deadly from outside. Will Aminu be able to work up to that level of shooting skill to keep defenses honest and open up his ability to get to the basket? Luol Deng is another player with similar size and athletic gifts who Aminu could favorably compare with.
Best Case Scenario: The best case scenario for Al-Farouq Aminu is that he develops his shooting ability and his handle, cuts down on silly turnovers, and utilizes his top-drawer athleticism to become one of the best small forwards in the NBA. He will be 20 years old in September and has shown a substantial amount of improvement in only two years at Wake Forest, but there’s a strong sense that he’s only scratched the surface of his potential. In a few years, it would not surprise us to see AFA putting in regular work as a 15/10 type of player as he continues to develop his skill set and grows more comfortable with his body.
2013 Projection: The problem with Aminu’s game now is that it is still very raw. He doesn’t have a go-to move or much of a perimeter game, so he will probably have to rely on pure athleticism during his first couple of seasons in order to find minutes. By his third year, we’d expect to see him starting to come into his own as a reliable small forward in the League. His offense will have improved to the point where he can’t be left open for the mid-range jumper, and his defense should be the best part of his game at this stage in his career. A starting spot with an understanding that he’s on the verge of great things sounds reasonable at this point.
Best NBA Fit: At this stage in his development, the ideal situation for Aminu would be to play on teams that don’t rely much on halfcourt sets for offense. Two teams in the mid-lottery zone fit the bill — the Golden State Warriors at #6 and the LA Clippers at #8. Both teams have dynamic point guards and systems that look to run at every opportunity. And running is where you want Aminu right now — filling the lanes for dunks and putbacks — while he continues to work on his jumpshot and other facets of halfcourt offense.