Earlier this month, Ben Mehic wrote a column about Washington Wizards center Ian Mahinmi getting an “unexpected, major role” in light of injuries to Thomas Bryant and Moritz Wagner. There is little doubt that the Wizards had little intention of playing the veteran very much.
However, NBA basketball has a “next man up” mentality when all other options are exhausted. Mahinmi was that next man, and he’s doing his part to make the most of his on court time this season.
Yes, I know, Mahinmi played just four games. But here are some of the more encouraging figures.
- Mahinmi is averaging 7.3 points per game this season — The figure is his highest rate as a Wizard. Mahinmi is also making 75 percent of his free throws, the highest rate of his career in Washington.
- His defensive statistics remain consistent — Though Mahinmi has been best known as a solid low post defender, he hasn’t been known to be a prolific shot blocker. This season, he’s averaging 1.5 blocks per game while averaging just 17 minutes. Also, Mahimmi has averaged 9.0 rebounds per 36 minutes. Though it’s the lowest rate in his career, it’s still solid. The blocking figures in particular are likely going down as the season goes on, but Mahinmi’s statistical efficiency hasn’t nose-dived between last season and this one.
- Mahinmi’s personal foul rate has continued to decrease — So far, Mahinmi is averaging 5.8 fouls per 36 minutes, which matches his Wizards career-low back in the 2016-17 season. Since he will be playing more minutes in the short term, it’s good to see that Mahinmi is playing more conservatively.
I certainly am not saying that Mahinmi should start at center indefinitely until Bryant returns. And I am not saying that he is a potential option for the Wizards’ plans next season. But I am pleased that Mahinmi held the fort well in light of the circumstances. It will be nice to see him finish this season on a relative high note in light of the circumstances he faced over the past four seasons.