By: Kyle Bass, Hornets.com
June 14, 2012
Hornets.com continues its look back at the 2011-12 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:
Al-Farouq Aminu entered the 2011-12 NBA season amidst much uncertainty and confusion. Aminu was part of the Chris Paul trade that sent the former Hornets All-Star to Los Angeles for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, a first-round draft pick and himself. The trade occurred less than two full weeks before the regular season began, and Aminu was forced to adjust to a new city, team and coach in a short period of time. However, the former Wake Forest product was willing to listen to and work with the coaching staff, developing into a solid defender and contributor by seasons end.
When the Paul trade was first announced, there were likely many Hornets fans unsure of Aminus abilities or the role he would play on the team. The coaches knew that he had elite athleticism, but felt that he could improve his intensity level.
Chief can jump. Hes probably our best athlete, said head coach Monty Williams. He doesnt have that mindset to just go in there and hammer on somebody all the time. Id like to see him finish better at the basket.
At the beginning of the season, Aminu struggled to find time on the floor as a backup to starting small forward Trevor Ariza. Even though he was one of only three Hornets players to appear in every single game this season, his role was not increased until the final 18 games of the season.
Through the first 48 games, he averaged just 5.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.6 steals in 19.1 minutes per game. He also shot just 39 percent from the floor and 17 percent from beyond the three-point line in those contests, as the Hornets went 12-36 in those games. However, in the last 18 games Aminus numbers improved with increased minutes, averaging 8.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 steals in nearly 31 minutes per game. In those contests, he shot 46 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc and assisted the Hornets to a 9-9 record. Chief also led the team with 107 rebounds and 28 steals in those games. The Georgia native showed improved focus and effort and was noticeably better on the defensive end of the floor. He attributes that to experience and growth under this coaching staff.
Just growth. Me being young, Im just learning how to play off other people and play without the ball, said Aminu. Me minimizing my game to an extent not trying to do too much or make emotional passes, has helped me bring down my turnovers. Learning how to find my shot within the system has helped me with my field-goal percentage.
Although Aminu performed much better during the second half of the season, his best game came in the first eight games of the season. Perhaps showing what he was capable of, Aminu recorded 15 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and two assists in a 96-81 road loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 7. Chief recorded career highs in rebounds and steals while recording his first career double-double. He led the team in points, rebounds and steals while shooting 50 percent from the floor and beyond the three-point line. Aminu also connected on five of six free throw attempts in a losing effort. He was especially effective in the second half, recording 12 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Aminu is hoping to earn dual U.S-Nigerian citizenship and compete for the Nigerian national team during this summers Olympic Games. While hes awaiting news on that though, Aminu will be in the gym working hard to improve his game and become a more complete player.
Im going to really work on my ballhandling. One thing I really worked on this year was my mid-range shot and Im going to keep working on it, said Aminu. Thats going to be big for me, especially in this type of offense. I want to extend my range out to the three-point line eventually, but for now more my mid-range and ballhandling. Im going to put a big emphasis on ballhandling this summer.
If Aminu is not participating in the 2012 Summer Olympics with the Nigerian national team, Hornets fans can expect to see the swingman performing with the Hornets at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Although he made strides in his second year in the league, Aminu still stands to benefit from extra playing time and could use the experience to build some chemistry with the rest of the young talent that is being assembled here in New Orleans.
|ADDITIONAL 2011-12 SEASON IN REVIEWS|
|JASON SMITH||JARRETT JACK||GUSTAVO AYON|
|MARCO BELINELLI||LANCE THOMAS||XAVIER HENRY|
|EMEKA OKAFOR||CHRIS KAMAN||ERIC GORDON|
|GREIVIS VASQUEZ||AL-FAROUQ AMINU||TREVOR ARIZA|
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