As Aminu stuffs the box score and provides highlight reel material, it's almost hard to believe he picked up six DNP-CDs and had a couple other one-minute outings in a recent span of a month and a half. At this point, Aminu is arguably the Mavs' most indispensable reserve.
His seven-point, five-rebound, two-steal, two-block, two-assist performance in Monday's 100-94 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves epitomized the Aminu experience of late. He packed all kinds of energy and a few of the night's most spectacular moments -- a fast-break finish of an alley-oop from Raymond Felton, a chasedown swat of Andrew Wiggins and a two-handed slam over Gorgui Dieng -- into his 21 minutes.
"He's been great," Dirk Nowitzki said. "He fell a little bit out of the rotation and really just got another opportunity and made the best out of it. Just playing with energy, blocking shots, bumping his chest, just being active. It's been fun to watch."
The Mavs hoped the 6-foot-8 Aminu, a 24-year-old former lottery pick, would be a minimum-salary bargain when they signed him this summer. He's a flawed offensive player -- that's a polite way to say he can't shoot -- but the Mavs saw him as a proven rebounder with potential to be an outstanding defender.
For the most part, Aminu has lived up to that billing. He has the Mavs' best net rating (plus-11.9 per 100 possessions) this season, but that didn't prevent Carlisle from basically demoting Aminu for a stretch, when shooters Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva got the vast majority of the reserve minutes at the forward spots.
Dallas' desperate need for rebounding cracked the door again for Aminu, who averages 11.2 boards per 48 minutes. In the six games since he rejoined the rotation, Aminu has the team's best plus-minus (plus-42) and is averaging 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.8 blocks.
"He's so athletic, and he's so long," Chandler Parsons said. "He knows how to use his quickness. He's a great defender, he's blocking shots, he's rebounding. He's doing all the little things that we need him to do. He's not going to force shots. He's not going to take bad shots. He's going to play hard every single night. Every team needs guys like that. He's got to keep it up."
Added Carlisle: "He's one of our best rebounders, pound for pound, so that's really important, and that's what's getting him on the floor first. Then he's playing a good, all-around game of basketball. His energy is important."
Aminu is well aware he could be a few lackadaisical nights from again wearing his warmups the whole game. He knows only one way to keep that from happening.
"I've just got to keep on grinding," he said.