Aminu, 23, officially signed with the Mavs on Tuesday. It’s a two-year deal for the veteran’s minimum with a player option for the second season.
That’s tremendous value for a player who was the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft and started in New Orleans the last two seasons.
The Mavs don’t view Aminu as a reclamation project like Brandan Wright, another former eighth overall pick, was when he arrived in Dallas on a minimum-salary deal a few years ago. They expect the 6-foot-9 Aminu, a phenomenal athlete with limited offensive skills, to be a key rotation player right away at both forward positions.
The Mavs also believe Aminu, who has career averages of 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, can blossom as a role player on the Mavs.
“He’s still a young player,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I feel like he’s got big upside and skill. We’ve got to get him better. His outside shooting can improve, but we’ve got to put him in position to play to his strengths now.”
Those strengths offensively are rebounding, running and finishing. He’s a poor shooter (29.2 percent from 3-point range for his career), but the Mavs are confident that Carlisle can figure out how to make Aminu a useful offensive role player.
If that happens, the Mavs expect Aminu to emerge as an elite defender. Given his length (7-foot-3 wingspan) and athleticism, his Synergy Sports defensive stats from last season were surprisingly mediocre. One Mavs source said he thought the Pelicans crushed Aminu’s confidence and killed his energy by essentially demanding that he not shoot the ball.
The expectation is that Aminu, who still led NBA small forwards in rebounding percentage for the second consecutive season, will be mentally recharged by joining the Mavs, giving him the opportunity to contribute to a playoff team for the first time in his career. The hope is that Carlisle will get more out of Aminu than his previous coaches have.
If Aminu is the same player he was for New Orleans, he’s still a great value for the minimum. But the Mavs believe Aminu can be much better than that.