The Cleveland Cavaliers have about $17 million in cap space to spend this summer, but could clear up around $23 million to offer a max contract. In the following few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might pick up during the free agency period. Today, we profile New Orleans Pelicans small forward Al-Farouq Aminu. Click here for more free agency profiles.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Al-Farouq Aminu
Position: Small Forward
Prior Team: New Orleans Pelicans
2013-14 Per Game Stats: 7.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 47.4 FG%, 27.1 3PT%, 66.4 FT% (80 GP)
Career Per Game Stats: 6.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 44.2 FG%, 29.2 3PT%, 73 FT% (303 GP)
After being dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the Chris Paul deal, Al-Farouq Aminu has started 136 games over the past two seasons for the Pellies. The eighth overall selection in the 2010 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, Aminu has failed to grow into the player he was projected to be after two years at Wake Forest. Still just 23 years old, Aminu, a descendent from a line of Nigerian kings, offers youth, size, defense and excellent rebounding from the forward position.
Measuring nearly 6′-9″ in shoes with a 7′-3.25″ wingspan, Aminu provides elite size for his position, giving him the ability to defend bigger forwards. He also has quick feet, which allows him to stay in front of smaller players, making him a versatile defender and a valuable asset in the pick-and-roll game.
Aminu’s strength is in the open court, where he can showcase his athleticism and finishing ability. Last season he was devastating near the rim, converting 66 percent of his attempts at the cup. However, he wasn’t able to flourish in the Pelicans’ slowed system. In the half-court he isn’t a shot creator, but rather found some success with hard cuts to the paint, using energy and effort to create space for himself to operate. Once he gets outside the paint, it’s all bad news for Aminu. He is a terrible perimeter shooter and currently a non-factor from long range (48 3-point attempts in 2013-14) although he may have some corner-three potential, albeit a minuscule sample size, after shooting 11 of 31 (35 percent) from the corners. He is a threat on the offensive glass, using his length, quickness and effort to fight for extra possessions.
Defensively is where Aminu proves his worth as a role player. His size and terrific defensive rebounding abilities (he led all SFs in defensive rebounding for the second straight season) gives his team valuable lineup versatility. As mentioned, he is a quality defender in the omnipresent pick-and-roll game, because he can switch onto most guards and hold his own or battles the big down low. Aminu brings value because he is one of the handful of players who matches up physically with high-level wing scorers like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.
Though he’s failed to live up to his lofty draft position, Aminu isn’t a guy who pouts or hoists shots because he wants to disprove that he is a bust. He runs hard, fights for extra possessions and gives great effort defensively. He knows what he is and there’s something to be said for that.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
Aminu could fill the role of former Cavalier Alonzo Gee and would be a quality backup forward on a team that lacks proven NBA defense at every position. Aminu’s offensive limitations will likely force him to come off the bench for now, so why not sign him on the cheap to bring reliable defense, rebounding and positional versatility? Ideally, the guys who fill out the bench are versatile players who have a proven skill-set in this league, and though Aminu may not be the most sought after free agent on the market, he could prove a valuable addition to a rising Cavaliers team yearning to make the leap into playoff contention.