Former Wake Forest University forward Al-Farouq Aminu was one of three players traded to the New Orleans Hornets last week by the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for superstar point guard Chris Paul, who ironically is also a former Wake Forest Deamon Deacon. Aminu is in his second year in the league, and Coach Monty Williams feels that he still has much to work on. â€œWe feel like heâ€™s a guy thatâ€™s going to be in a fight with Quincy (Pondexter) for minutes,â€ Williams told the New Orleans Times Picayune. â€œWe donâ€™t give up anything around here. He has a skill set, but we donâ€™t want guys to be in position by default.â€
While shooting guard Eric Gordon, who averaged 22.9 points last season for the Clippers, was the centerpiece in the deal for the Hornets, Aminu exhibited enough potential to be a top ten pick in the 2010 NBA draft. â€œHe has the skills and abilities that I think most small forwards would pay for,â€ Williams said. â€œHeâ€™s long and can rebound. When youâ€™re 6 feet 9 and can do that, you are a prototype small forward.â€ Veteran center Chris Kaman was the third component of the trade for New Orleans.
The 21-year-old Aminu is expected to come off the bench for now, but that could very well be a temporary arrangement. â€œIâ€™m trying to get better and learn the mentality down here, which is always to go hard, and thatâ€™s great,â€ Aminu told the Times Picayune. â€œThe intensity in practice here is a little different with guys focused throughout the session, and itâ€™s time for me to start myself out to where the level is. All the coaches here are pushing me to be a better player. They just want to get the best out of all their players.â€
Being traded, especially as a very young player, can often be traumatic. But the silver lining would be that Aminu is returning to the part of the country in which he grew up, having been reared in Atlanta, Georgia before moving on to the state of North Carolina to attend Wake Forest. The Hornets open their regular season schedule on December 26th against the Phoenix Suns.