Fourth in our 9 players, 9 days series and sixth on my draft board is Wake Forest''s combo forward, Al-Farouq Aminu. Thoughts after the jump.
Age: 20 (in late September)
Weight: 205 lbs (DraftExpress), 210 lbs (ESPN)
First things first. I'm trademarking the nickname "Acid" for Aminu. If you read through the post I just linked to (and the comments) you'll see that I've changed my mind on Aminu. At first, I wanted no part of him. I thought he represented a huge project and relative to the other guys I had my eye on at the time, I wasn't willing to wait.
Upon further reflection, however, I've warmed considerably to what I think Aminu represents. Yes, he's raw. Definitely the most raw of my top six, he's not going to burst onto the scene in Philly and score 20 ppg immediately. I'm not sure he ever projects to be a 20 ppg player. He's not the shooter the Sixers need, and I doubt he'll ever develop into that guy either. Once I got over what he probably would never be, I started thinking about what he possibly could be.
Aminu is an unbelievable athlete with a freakish build. ESPN lists him at 6'8" with a 7'4" wing span, for comparison's sake, Thad measured at 6'7.5" with a 6'11.5" wing span. He can run, he's a high energy guy, he can rebound and I believe he can legitimately play the four. By legitimately play the four, I mean he can legitimately defend most fours in the league, and he also has the foot speed to stick with threes or twos in a pinch. Think about the possibilities for a second. A four who can realistically switch, show and recover or trap on any pick and roll.
Offensively, I see a lot of Thad in Aminu with one distinction. This kid seeks out contact. Thad averaged 3.1 free throw attempts/40 minutes in college. Aminu averaged 6.8 as a freshman, 8.2 as a sophomore per 40. His post game may not look as polished as Thad's, but I do believe it will be much more productive. While Thad uses spins to avoid contact and get his shot off, Aminu earns trips to the line for free points.
To put it simply, if this team truly wants to play a defend-to-run style, a fully-realized Aminu would be an absolutely perfect fit. He's a bit undersized to play the four, but he doesn't have the typical drawbacks of a small four. He defends, he rebounds, he'll have an athletic advantage over just about any four in the league from day one. He would give you all the positives the team has enjoyed from playing Thad at the four, without the debilitating drawbacks.
From a team perspective, Aminu isn't the answer in and of himself. Adding him doesn't simply round out the starting lineup even for this upcoming season. He's a piece, hopefully a long-term piece, but a lineup of Dalembert, Aminu, Thad, Iguodala and Jrue simply cannot shoot enough to compete. The same goes for Dalembert, Brand, Aminu, Iguodala and Jrue. The Sixers will still need to find a wing who can shoot to be able to slot Aminu in as the starting four playing 30+ minutes/game alongside Iguodala, or hope he somehow turns into a better than league-average shooter from distance, which I don't see. I also don't see Aminu ever turning into what most people would call a superstar. That doesn't mean he can't be another piece equal to Iguodala and Jrue in the grand scheme of things, but I hardly think he'll be a savior.
Short-term, I could see the Sixers trying to shoehorn Aminu into the starting lineup, and the results would probably be mixed. On nights when the defense was really clicking, they'd run teams right out of the gym. When teams were able to force them into a half-court offense, they'd look terrible. On the defensive end, I'd say a good coach could really do something with a starting five of Dalembert, Aminu, Thad, Iguodala and Jrue. Depth would be the problem. Ultimately, though, if Aminu was rushed into the starting lineup and a big role, and no other improvements were made to the roster, this team would probably be headed to the lottery again.
Long-term, Aminu definitely fits the mold as a building block moving forward. The length, athleticism and positional versatility would fit perfectly with Jrue and Iguodala. Three positions down, two to go.
Thoughts in the comments, as usual. Here's my top nine, so far:
9. Ed Davis
8. Cole Aldrich
7. Ekpe Udoh
6. Al-Farouq Aminu
5. Coming tomorrow
Here's a quick highlight reel of Aminu