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Al-Farouq Aminu: Golden State Cyber-Workout One

Ashwath KrishnaContributor IMay 21, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 20:  Al-Farouq Aminu #1 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons shoots the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 20, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Currently, all the 2010 draft prospects are undergoing their pre-draft workouts, starting with the combine in Chicago and moving on to some individual workouts with teams.

These can often reveal new facets of a player’s game, for better or worse – maybe he isn’t tough enough for the NBA? Maybe his jumper is actually much better than we realized? Maybe he has the potential to be a star with a little work?

On the other side of the Pacific, in a totally different hemisphere, I’m sitting at my laptop, preparing to pull a late nighter to give you the world’s first Cyber-Workout. No. One.

I’m not trying out for the Warriors, as much as I’d like to. I can shoot like Stephen Curry, but I don’t have the height (5’10” in the morning,) athleticism (a 23” vertical don’t lie) or body (no ACL in my left knee, and unlike DeJuan Blair, it does affect me badly.)

Instead, I’m going to be working over some of the prospects.

I am a big believer that in-game performance is what matters. A famous anecdote I once heard related to Grant Hill and Allan Houston when they were on the Pistons together.

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Remember, this is pre-injury Grant Hill, where he was considered a candidate for the, “next Jordan,” title and had the requisite hops for it.

Yet Houston, best known as a pure shooter, had a higher vertical leap. Who was the better athlete?

You see my point. Looking good in a workout, to me, is like looking good on paper. So, that’s why most of my rankings are based on college ball matches I’ve watched and the players’ performance through them, along with sites like The Draft Express.

I’m going to start off with Al-Farouq Aminu, mostly because he would be my pick for the Warriors at six.

Aminu, and all the other players I do these articles on, will have their game analysed through six categories – NBA Readiness, Upside, Offense, Defense, Rebounding and Intangibles.

NBA Readiness  

Aminu isn’t quite there yet.

His game still needs a little refinement before he can become a full-time starter, along with figuring out what exactly his position is.

I’d prefer to see him on the bench for his first year, or at least for the first half of it.

Although, since he has the skill set to play Nellie Ball (jumper excepted,) I wouldn’t be too sad if he got plenty of minutes in a sixth man role.

As for his position, I think he has to be a small forward in the future. He isn’t big enough (height or width-wise) to guard regular-sized power forwards, but he has a length (if not height) advantage over most SFs, and is quick enough to guard them.

Nellie will probably use him as a PF this year, but after he leaves, I think his replacement has to make him into a three.

Grade: C

Upside

Aminu has plenty of upside, without a doubt. While I don’t think it’s quite Derrick Favors-level, I can definitely see him as an All-Star in the future if he manages to refine his game enough.

The raw tools are definitely there, assuming that his spirit isn’t broken by Nellie in his first year he can go a long way in the NBA.

Grade: A-

Offense

This is the part of Aminu’s game that needs the most refinement.

Currently his jumpshot gets a, "Work In Progress" sticker, however, he has nice form and mechanics to it so, I figure this should improve with practice.

He does, however, have a tendency to take bad shots, especially off the dribble (and his shooting off the dribble makes Baron look like Kobe at times.)

Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is simply a maturity/experience deal which will eventually decline. The good thing is that for most of the time he seems to understand his role on the court and doesn’t hog the ball or try to do too much.

We already have two ball hogs on the team – adding a third would be Steph Curry’s worst nightmare.

Aminu definitely has the potential to become an effective slasher. He has the speed and athleticism for sure, plus his ball-handling skills are reasonable for a 19-year-old sophomore forward.

Again, there is room for improvement, but nothing’s broken so it’ll come with practice.

Ideally, I see him becoming a Josh Smith type, with slightly less hops but a better J.

Grade: C+

Defense

Here’s where I figure Aminu can really help us.

Currently, team defense is a foreign concept to the Warriors. Which, becomes even more problematic when you play a back-court of two guys who are both 6’3”, not that long and tend to rely on playing the passing lanes and generally scrappy D.

When you add guys like Maggette to the equation, for whom the idea of defense altogether is like Ancient Greek, you can see why we let in over 110 points per game on average last year.

Aminu is an excellent man to man defender. He is long, very quick laterally, committed to defense and has good anticipation (which also shows a decent basketball IQ) of his opponent’s moves.

He guarded both threes and fours in college. As I’ve said earlier, while the thought of him having to mark Pau Gasol or Amare Stoudemire in the post gives me heartburn, I wouldn’t lose any sleep if I knew he was being groomed to be our Kobe/LeBron stopper. The Shane Battier/Raja Bell on the D’Antoni Suns role as it were.

Plus, he does the small things well on the defensive end. He hustles nicely, blocks shots as competently as you’d expect from a guy with his physical tools and plays adequate post defense (again, not ideal against the best NBA PFs, but if his body fills out a bit this could improve.)

Grade: A- 

Rebounding

Aminu averaged 11rpg this past season in college.

Nothing to laugh at there. Plus, from what I saw of him he boxes out well and gets good body position which means this skill should carry over into the NBA (unlike, say Michael Beasley, who was a great rebounder in college just using his athleticism and strength.)

The Dubs can use all the rebounding help they can get, especially as Biedrins is the only guy on the team I trust to crash the boards consistently.

Grade:  A

Intangibles

Here’s where I really begin to like Aminu.

As I mentioned earlier, he does all the little things right at both ends of the court. This is really big, cause one thing I have learned is that it’s much easier to work on and improve the bigger picture than it is to develop those little things.

He hustles, isn’t afraid to mark the opposition’s best guy or take clutch shots. His shooting in the clutch, like during the rest of the game, could improve but the fact that he seems willing to do so is a biggie. 

Off the court, while he has a somewhat chequered history (he was once charged with shooting a woman with a BB gun) that seems to be a one-off. And as off-court problems go, shooting someone accidentally with a BB gun is nothing. We’ve all done it.

All I’m reading about him suggests that he’s an excellent character guy both on and off the court, very coach-able and eager to improve his game. In a team with it’s share of head cases (Monta, Randolph, our coach) it’s important to have your good guys to balance it out.

Grade: A

As you can probably tell by now, I’m high on Aminu (and no, not in that way.) In a draft where we’re unlikely to get someone who can come in and start contributing at a high level right away and save our team, it’s worth taking the Bennett City Hijackers approach – get a bunch of young guys together and let them develop.

We already have our point guard (Curry) and (hopefully) our power forward (Randolph) for the future, and if Monta and Biedrins shape up they’re both capable of making major impacts going forward (remember, Monta is only 24 and Biedrins 25) in the Bay.

A team of Curry/Ellis/Aminu/Randolph/Biedrins with Morrow, Buike, a backup PG and a couple of decent low post players off the bench in three or four years is a team knocking on the door of the playoffs.

Anyway, I'll be featuring Greg Monroe next - after that, if there's anyone you want me to do a similar report on, just ask and I'll see what I can do.

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