The Wizards need to shore up their depth at every position this summer, but center is arguably the most important place to have a good backup in place, since Gortat is the oldest member of Washington’s starting five next season. That said, the first center connected with the team is an interesting one.
David Aldridge of NBA.com is reporting the Wizards are among the teams interested in Ian Mahinmi:
Washington, San Antonio and Minnesota in the mix for C Ian Mahinmi, who won’t return to Indy next year after Pacers’ deal w/Al Jefferson.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 2, 2016
Charlotte, Dallas, Portland and Orlando also working on Mahinmi.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 2, 2016
Mahinmi is coming off a really nice bounce-back year in Indiana, where he averaged 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 58.9 percent from the field. He was also a key part of the Pacers’ defense. He posted the fourth-best Defensive Real Plus/Minus at the center position last season and helped the Pacers finish with the third-best defense in the NBA last season.
Mahinmi would be nice because he would give Washington an option at center who can protect the paint better than Marcin Gortat and not demand a lot of possessions off the bench like Nene last season.
That said, there are some reasons for concern. He turns 30 in November, so he doesn’t really help the team get much younger at the center position. He also played through a bevy of injuries last season, as Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star detailed:
Mahinmi led the Pacers in the regular season with the number of injuries he sustained, a team-leading six different types. His lower back has bothered him since late November and has forced him to miss multiple games. He has also played through a sore left knee, a sore left heel, a sore left ankle and a forehead laceration that required eight stitches.
After each injury, Mahinmi continued to play on, and he averaged 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds, both career highs, in 71 games.
While it’s encouraging to see that he was able to play well through pain last season, the hard truth is it gets harder to keep doing that as you get older, and that’s exactly what the Wizards would be investing in if they signed him to a deal.
Ian Mahinmi would be great at filling an immediate area of need for the Wizards, and for that alone he’s worth a look. That said, hopefully the Wizards are also exploring some other options at center who could provide some more long-term value.