Who's the better Pip: Johnson vs. Aminu Chapter I

It is almost draft day, and for once GSoM is more or less jovial about the possibilities of draft day. (Considering the majority of the time we are prior to draft day.) This year's draft showcases some of the NCAA's elite talent and some of the best athletes in a while. In fact, you could argue that this is one of the few drafts in which the top 5 or 6 prospects in the draft in fact have the 5 or 6 best NBA bodies.

Once again, the Kings and Warriors have become disappointed that yet again, both were on the the bad side of Lady Luck. However, it may or may not be the worst thing to happen to both franchises. In fact, the NorCal rivals easily had the two best rookies in last year's draft, no matter which way you view it to be.

And this year, the oppurtunity presents itself once again to be able to have two very good players at the same position, further rekindling the rivalry.

Two of the best athletes and arguably the best at their position in the draft, have the opportunity to be selected with the 5th and 6th picks and to face each other in what can become the best Interstate Rivalry since the Subway Series.

Wesley Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu are two players, at the same position with games that are similar yet different in many ways.

Both are comparable to one of the 50 greatest players of all time- Scottie Pippen. But which one is the better Pip?

Before we go into detail, let's check out Pippen's bio, courtesy of the NBA Playoff Historical Encyclopedia.

One of the most versatile and talented players, [...]Scottie Pippen orchestrated an offense like a point guard, rebounded like a power forward, scored like a shooting guard, and defended on the perimeter like few others. The seven-time All-Star was a vital component of the Chicago Bulls’ six NBA Championships in the 1990s. But above and beyond, his all-around game was the prototype for the next generation of small forwards. [...] But above and beyond, his all-around game was the prototype for the next generation of small forwards.

Pippen was always known as one of the most versatile players of all time. Playing the small forward position, Pippen could do everything. Pass, shoot, drive, rebound, and defend. He had the skill set of a guard in that he could shoot and drive the ball, being able to push it up the floor, being able to play the passing lanes well, and being able to pass the ball efficiently.Pippen was the pioneer of the small forward position and carved out the blueprints for what scouts should look for in small forwards today.

However, Pippen didn't exactly have the type of childhood and college career you'd expect of such a prolific player:

But what may even be a bigger mystery was how he even reached the heights he did in the basketball world. He was one of a dozen children who grew up in tiny Hamburg, Arkansas. As a freshman at tiny University of Central Arkansas, an NAIA school, he was a nonscholarship player and received financial aid for being the team manager. To pay for the rest of his education he worked in the summers as a welder attaching the arms of school desks to the legs, leaving him with scars on his own arms.

He averaged just 4.3 ppg that first season and received little attention for much of his college career, despite improving quickly and steadily. Finally after averaging 23.6 ppg and 10.0 rpg as a senior, Pippen found himself a hot commodity in the 1987 NBA Draft.

Pippen wasn't a one-and-done player, he didn't come out straight from high-school; he was a prolific college player only after staying four years and improving every year did Pippen arrive on the map of recruits.



Even then, Pippen didn't have the rookie year you'd expect:

The lanky long-armed rookie came off the bench in his first season, playing a reserve role behind small forward Brad Sellers. Pippen averaged 7.9 ppg and 3.8 rpg, shooting .463 from the field and .576 from the free-throw line.

Pippen was never thought of highly during the beginning of his career. Until he had the green light to start in front of Sellers in a playoff game, coach Doug Collins never realized his talent. From then on, however, he was given the starting role on the team.

To dig deeper into Pippen's past, I took a look at an excerpt from a book Who's Better, Who's Best by Elliot Kalb called Scottie Pippen: The Second Banana.

It was Chicage General Manager Jerry Krause who loved Pippen and made a draft-day trade with Seattle to secure the rights to Pip. Ironically, it was Krause who later coveted European forward Toni Kukoc. Pippen would view this as a sign of disrespect towards him. [...] Krause would eventually add another Pippen nemesis to the roster- Dennis Rodman (260).

 Pippen was abviously not the most humble of people, but in his reign with the Bulls, he won; over and over and over again.



Now, let's take a look at the bio's of the two Pip-esque players in the draft, starting with Syracuse swingman Wes Johnson, according to the Iowa State Athletics site:

 Johnson was born on July 11, 1987, in Corsicana, Texas to Robert and Mary Johnson.

He played at Corsicana High School in Texas and then transferred to a pair of prep schools (Patterson School {N.C.}, Eldon Academy)...originally signed with Louisiana-Monroe out of high school and then opted to attend prep school after a coaching change...played for the Dallas Mustangs AAU team, the top AAU club in Texas...averaged 15.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.3 blocks his final year at Corsicana...named the 2005 Golden Circle Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team all-district pick in 2004 and 2005...chose Iowa State over Charlotte and San Diego State.


If you want to learn more about Wes, here is a video of him displaying his exuberant personality:

Get To Know Wesley Johnson (via palestranet)



Wes was obviously never really highly recruited.Until Wes become a rare transfer to Syracuse in 2008, he was never highly regarded as a draft prospect, much less a top 5 draft prospect. However, after having a year to showcase his skills for a Syracuse team that went deep into the NCAA tournament, Wes is now arguably the top SF in the country. In short, Wes wasn't hyped or storied, and little is actually known about his past.

However, Wes can seldom be described as a shy guy. Take a look at his impressive interview:

Wesley Johnson Draft Combine Interview - Part 1 (via DraftExpress)



The other Pippen, a slightly bigger forward out of Wake Forest, Al-Farouq Aminu, has a much more curios and interesting storyline.

Check out his background, courtesy of Lucas O'Neill with

Ask most high school athletes to tell you something about themselves that people might not know, and the answers will probably revolve around a hobby or academic accomplishment. Not Norcross (Ga.) hoops star Al-Farouq Aminu. "I'm a prince," he says in response to the stock query. Indeed, Aminu descends from a line of Nigerian kings, and his name, Al-Farouq (though he often goes by just Farouq), means, "The chief has arrived." Rarely has a translation seemed more appropriate. A 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward, Aminu is Georgia's No. 1 player and the nation's No. 10 recruit in the Class of 2008 by RISE. The Wake Forest recruit averaged nearly a double-double per game last season as Norcross captured its second consecutive Class AAAAA state championship and finished ranked No. 8 in the nation by RISE. But Aminu's path to basketball royalty wasn't always regal. He transferred to Norcross from Wesleyan -- a small private school located just a third of a mile down the road from Norcross -- as a sophomore but was ruled ineligible because of state transfer rules. He played JV ball instead, which was initially disappointing but in hindsight may have been the best possible scenario. Every day during practice, Aminu went up against talented Norcross varsity players like 2007 Gatorade State Player of the Year and current Georgia Tech freshman Gani Lawal. But he didn't have to deal with the pressure of performing immediately for his new school[...] "If we needed him to, he could lead the break for us," Norcross coach Eddie Martin says. "I wouldn't compare him to a post, nor would I compare him to a guard. Farouq gives us a combination of those things."

If you're a bit tired of reading, check out this video of the Aminu Brothers: Princes of the Hardwood:

Aminu Brothers (via raycomsports1)



Aminu, unlike Johnson, was heavily recruited out of high school and has had a more uneven past. Unlike Wes, who was the star of stars in the state of Texas, Aminu wasn't that player until later in his high-school career.


Aminu was highly thought of, and his older brother, Alade Aminu, is currently playing with the Miami Heat.

In case you haven't seen it yet, here is Aminu mumbling about his position at the next level and even his older brother:



So, who is more Pippen-esque? To find the answer, we'll use another excerpt from the excerpt from the book called Who's Better, Who's Best: Scottie Pippen, the Second Banana, called What Type of player was Pippen?

One of the best defensive players in the game, with the ability to guard- and lock up and shut down- virtually anyone under seven feet tall. In the 2003 season-his 16th- Pippen would guard anyone from Atlanta power forward Shareef Abdul-Rahim to San Antonio point guard Tony Parker to Boston small forward Paul Pierce. This gave his teams incredible versatility. He ws a great leaper in his youth, and has the ability to dunk off the dribble on his drive and top-dunk the offensive rebound. He would often take the defensive rebounds and go the distance. He actually played point guard for the Chicage Championship teams in the Bulls' triple-post offense. He had excellent ball-handling skills and was a skilled passer (263).

Check out this video of Pippen, displaying his guard-like mobility and skill set:


Now, let's break down the attributes of Pip and see who does what best:


Defense: Arguably the greatest defender ever, Pippen could "take away whatever half of the court he was on".

Pippen was an extremely versatile, shut-down defender and a defensive leader.

The player I think that resembles this most is Al-Farouq Aminu, though Johnson is a pretty good defender himself.


Edge to Aminu.

Shooting: Pippen had the ability to shoot beyond the arc, but not to a high degree. Pippen's career TS% was .536, with a career high .561 and a career low of .448 his last year. He was never a very good 3-point shooter (career .326 3p% with a career high of .368 and a career low of .174%).

However, Johnson, more than Aminu, is a prolific shooter and a perimiter player on offense.

Edge to Johnson.

Rebounding: Pippen played next to Jordan and Rodman, two of the best rebounders under 7' at the time. He rebounded the ball at a decent rate for his position, but was never the prolific type of rebounder Johnson or Aminu could be. However, in a one-on-one contest, I'd give Aminu the edge, being arguably the best offensive rebounder in the country.

Edge to Aminu.

Passing: Pippen was always an elite playmaker. In fact, some say he may be a better passer than Celtics legend John Havilicek, or Hondo. No, seriously. I think the guy I would rather have passing and making plays right now is Wesley Johson, who has had more experience playing the point in high school and is an underrated passer.

Edge to Johnson.


So, who is your pick for the better Pip, pre-draft?


The guard-like skill-set, shooting stroke, and athletiicism of Wesley Johnson:




Or the lock-down defense, the supreme offensive rebounding, and the transition play of Aminu:






It's you call, as of now, who's the better Pip?

This FanPost is a submission from a member of the mighty Golden State of Mind community. While we're all here to throw up that W, these words do not necessarily reflect the views of the GSoM Crew. Still, chances are the preceding post is Unstoppable Baby!

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