Orlando Magic center Glen Davis (top) battles for the ball with New Orleans Hornets forward Al-Faroug Aminu during their exhibition NBA game in Mexico City October 7, 2012.
New Orleans Hornets forward Al Farouq Aminu was named the starter at small forward for the National Basketball Association (NBA) teamâ€™s season opening game. Prior to the announcement, Aminu was singled out for his impressive play in the teamâ€™s final preseason game against the defending champion Miami Heat.
Aminu came off the bench and scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 37 minutes in the preseason victory over the Heat. Lance Thomas started the final three preseason games while Aminu started the first five.
“I thought (Aminu) was exceptional in his energy, defended, ran the floor and the way he attacked the basket,â€™â€™ Hornetsâ€™ head coach Monty Williams said. “If the he plays like that weâ€™re going to be a better team because he has something that most guys in the league donâ€™t have. Heâ€™s quick, athletic and can rebound. I was encouraged that he had 10 boards. Heâ€™s a really good player.â€™â€™
Williams said both Thomas and Aminu have performed well in practices but havenâ€™t been able to carry it over to games. Thomas was held to one point in 10 minutes against the Heat. Going into this weekâ€™s preparations, Williams indicated that he has a lot to cover because his team is so young. He also said his players must come out in the season opener with the same type of intensity they had against the Heat.
“ Weâ€™re about to play for the real deal and our guys have to understand that the kind of intensity we played with Friday is how we got to play every night,â€™â€™ Williams said. He subsequently named Aminu the starter. â€œHeâ€™s going to command that spot right now,â€ Williams said. Aminu finished the preseason averaging 9.1 points and 5.7 rebounds over seven games, though his 37.3 shooting percentage is less than ideal. Also less than ideal was the fact that Aminuâ€™s fourth year option for 2013-2014 was turned down by the organization this week, making him a free agent after this season. So, that sets the stage for this season being a pivotal one in Aminuâ€™s basketball career.