Look, we get it. Ian Mahinmi is overpaid. His contract is bad in a vacuum, and it’s even worse in the context of Washington’s roster construction.
If he was getting paid fair market value, Washington would have had money to spend on other resources, like guard depth, or signing Mike Scott to a longer deal that could have kept them from their current predicament where they face overpaying him this summer or losing him for nothing.
But what exactly is fair market value for a traditional backup big man like Ian in today’s NBA? He has some clear offensive limitations. He’s only taken 11 shots outside of the paint this season, so he doesn’t space the floor as a shooter. He, along with Dwight Howard, are the only two players in the league to average over three turnovers per 36 minutes and less than two assists per 36 minutes.
There are concerning signs on the defensive end as well. He averages 7.5 fouls per 36 minutes. No other player who has played at least 500 minutes this season averages more than 6.2. Worse yet, it’s hard to see that trend reversing in the future considering he’s already 31.
It’s not all bad, though. The Wizards outscore opponents by 2.8 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor, the fourth-best net rating on the team. Most of those minutes come against other team’s reserves, but if nothing else, it shows he’s doing well in his defined role. It helps that he’s efficient when he shoots the ball, he’s knocking down over 70 percent of his free throws, and he spends most of his time playing alongside Scott, who provides great spacing and knows how to find him with a timely pass.
Most of your advanced metrics rate Mahinmi below-average, but not to the point where he should be out of the league. He’s good enough to earn playing time, but he shouldn’t be a starter or your best bench player.
To try to get a better sense of where Mahinmi’s market should be, I compared him with the ten centers closest to him in ESPN’s Real/Plus Minus and Kevin Broom’s Player Production Average to get a sense for the price other teams have paid for similar players. Here are the players who popped up in those results as well as their salaries this season:
- Dakari Johnson - $815,615
- Myles Turner - $2,569,920
- JaVale McGee - $1,471,382
- Aron Baynes - $4,328,000
- Cody Zeller - $12,584,270
- Al Jefferson - $9,769,821
- Ivica Zubac - $1,312,611
- Alex Len - $4,187,599
- Mason Plumlee - $14,041,096
- Khem Birch - $815,615
- Timofey Mozgov - $15,280,000
- Ante Zizic - $1,645,200
- Jahlil Okafor - $4,995,120
- Cristiano Felicio - $7,843,500
- Marreese Speights - $1,471,382
- Tony Bradley - $1,414,920
- Tarik Black - $3,290,000
- Greg Monroe - $16,384,176
- Thon Maker - $2,684,160
- Udonis Haslem - $1,471,382
When you average the salaries of those 20 players, you get an average salary of $5.4 million, but keep in mind several of the players are still on rookie scale deals so it isn’t really fair to include them when determining a proper free agent price. Once you get rid of rookie-scale players, the average bumps up to $7.3 million.
That price seems a little steep for what Ian Mahinmi brings to the table, but it’s not off by that much. Boban Marjanovic, another center with similar limitations, is making exactly $7 million this season and generally people seem to be okay with that deal. Once you factor in Mahinmi’s age and other limiting factors, something in the $4-6 million range sounds fair for this season.
Of course, that’s not the way the NBA works, but if it did, it would be interesting to think about how we’d look at Mahinmi differently if he in Washington at the right price point.
What would be a fair value for Ian Mahinmi this season?
This poll is closed
Under $4 million
Over $6 million