Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/10/14
In three seasons, New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams tried just about every motivational tactic to push small forward Al-Farouq Aminu to become a more consistent player. It still wasn't enough for Aminu to raise his level of play like the Pelicans hoped after they extended him a one-year, $3.7 contract last summer as a unrestricted free agent. Similar to last season, Williams benched Aminu in November with hopes of motivating him to play better.In December, Williams said he hadn't given Aminu enough opportunities to have the ball in his hands. Yet, when Aminu got more shots opportunities he wasn't able to convert. A number of opposing teams left Aminu open on the perimeter and watched him miss a high percentage of shots. ''I got to get guys to play at their highest level," Williams said after benching Aminu this season. "He's in a position to where he has to understand he has to play at a high level every single time he is on the floor. ''His focus and mentality has to be focused on (rebounding and defending) as opposed to scoring and things like that that look sexy. He has to do a lot of the dirty work for us to be a good team.'' Unable to show improvement, Aminu's scoring, rebounding, blocks and free-throw percentage all declined from the previous season. Aminu averaged 7.2 points and after averaging 7.3 last season. He grabbed a career-high 7.7 rebounds in 2012-13, but his average declined to 6.2 this season. He averaged 0.5 blocks compared to last season's 0.7 average. He made 73.7 percent of his foul shots last season and just 66.4 percent this season. Although Aminu, 6 feet 9, 215 pounds, is athletic and has the ability to attack the rim, he settled more this season to attempt perimeter shots. From 15-to-19 feet, Aminu made just 33.3 percent of his shots (24 of 72). From 25-to-29 feet on 3-point attempts, he missed 14 of 16 attempts for a miserable 14.3 percent. In all, Aminu attempted 48 3-pointers but made only 13, for 27.1 percent. Aminu's best stretch of the season came in early December when he scored in double figures in four of five games. From January until the final game of the season, Aminu had only occurrence of scoring back-to-back games in double figures. He scored 12 points in a Jan.28 game against Cleveland Cavaliers and had 18 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. When Aminu couldn't establish consistent production after the All-Star break, Williams opted to start swingman Tyreke Evans ahead of him. Even after Eric Gordon was lost for the season with a knee injury in late March, Aminu couldn't regain his starting job at small forward. Second-year player Darius Miller started the final seven games ahead of Aminu and showed more promise as a mid-range shooter.
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