Who Is Ian Mahinmi?

The newest Pacer is someone with whom many Hoosiers many not be familiar. He has never put up high numbers and rarely been featured on Sportscenter. But he has been a solid rotation player for much of the past two years and did mop up some quality minutes in the NBA Finals when the Mavericks beat the Heat. He is also generally viewed positively by those who have played with and coached him, and he still has a lot of room to improve as a player, even though he will never break out into someone who really should ever be starting for a contender.

For more, I reached out to Rob Mahoney with some questions.

Mahoney literally wrote the book on the Dallas Mavericks’ 2011 NBA Title and probably has written the equivalent of 40 more books on the Mavs over at The Two-Man Game in the past few years. He is also among the top half dozen or so NBA writers on the planet and proves it day after day for The New York Times, Bleacher Report, and The Classical, among others. (Follow him on Twitter.)

Here is our Q&A on Ian Mahinmi. (Pronounced Yan MY-een-me, FYI.)

How would you describe Ian Mahinmi to someone who has never seen him play?

Rob Mahoney: Ian deciphers basketball as if it were a foreign language — fitting for a French national attempting to find his way through the most innately American game. He’s come a long way since his days as raw material for the San Antonio Spurs’ developmental complex, but that doesn’t mean the game comes naturally to him or that his athleticism makes anything simple. Mahinmi has some impressive physical tools, but he plays as if he’s solely the product of what he’s learned, with no instinctive basis to call his own.

That said, Mahinmi has put together a nice little repertoire over the years. He grew into a wonderful pick-and-roll finisher opposite Jason Terry. He worked on his mid-range touch and became relatively consistent in spotting up from about 15 feet. He honed a post move or two even if he hasn’t gotten much of a chance to work from the block. He’s a mobile defender, and active shot blocker, and a hard worker. Some elements of the game (bits of defensive judgment, box-out technique, etc.) just manage to escape him.

My general assessment may seem negative, but that’s hardly my intent. Mahinmi is just a student of the game — a term I use not to indicate that he’s a basketball junkie, but simply that his knowledge base (and his effectiveness) is still growing, as it has been over the last several seasons.

What did he contribute to the Mavs over the past two years?

Rob Mahoney: Mahinmi chipped in solid minutes as a reserve big for Dallas, first as a third center and more recently as a member of a triumvirate that split minutes at the position. His flaws are more apparent the longer he stays on the floor, but with regulated playing time, Mahinmi brings a nice infusion of energy, some decent catch-and-finish potential, and active defense. He doesn’t have any standout strengths, but legitimately does many things quite well.

Why did Dallas seemingly have such disinterest in bringing him back? Was it totally due to wanting to maintain cap flexibility and not commit anything to a role player? Were there other reasons?

Rob Mahoney: Mostly that; Brandan Wright’s emergence has made Mahinmi a bit expendable in Dallas, and that development compounded with the Mavs’ salary considerations made bringing back Mahinmi improbable at the least. My understanding is that Mahinmi was looking for a multi-year deal, and with Dallas unable to oblige and a few other teams interested (Indiana obviously included), a split was almost inevitable.

How do you see him fitting in behind Roy Hibbert and David West?

Rob Mahoney: Pretty well, though he’s hardly a cure-all. The rebounding deficit could prove to be a bit problematic, though Mahinmi is nevertheless a better overall fit than Tyler Hansbrough or Lou Amundson by way of his defense. Offensively, I’m not sure who couldn’t fit in with such versatile bigs; Hibbert and West are both so high-low flexible, and while Mahinmi doesn’t have some particular patch of real estate to call his own, he should do well in revolving around either Pacer big man.

Tags: Newest Pacer

  • ced

    Good stuff, you pronounce the n : (MY-ee-n-me)

  • jmbyoung

    Dude sounds like a poor man’s serge I aka.

  • Realist

    I already miss DC.

  • Derek U

    A very very poor mans Ibaka.

  • Pingback: Ian Mahinmi Is Blue Robe | Eight Points, Nine Seconds

  • Zack

    You have to really regulate his minutes, but yet he’s going to be the primary backup to Hibs (meaning 15 to 20 minutes a game right?).

    Btw, what’s the word on OJ Mayo?

  • Chris D.

    He was one of the few mildly productive players on a Dallas team that absolutely collapsed in the playoffs. I still can’t believe we *gave away* our best PG.

  • Joe B

    Interesting move. Sounds like a guy who can provide a good defensive presence when Hibbert or West are not on the floor. Remember the difficult tear drops from Miami that turned into layups when Hibbert was on the bench? This move makes sure the Pacers constantly have a shot blocker, which Miles Plumlee is not.

    But, this raises a different question: where will Plumlee play? Will he play this year at center and split bench time with this guy, or will the Pacers employ a “Big Bench” and play Plumlee at the 4 at times, if he earns time on the court?

  • Jesse

    DC/Dahntay were worth more.

  • AMFinocchi

    Purely crap. We’re going to give up T-Hans, and we replace him with this guy? He’s a good defender. Ok. But who’s going to score of the big guys in the second unit if we give T-Hans away? Specially without a heavy scorer off the bench in the wings (I think Lance isn’t ready yet). And this guy can’t be the starter if West gets injured. T-Hans had a bad last season, but if he get his shooting back, he could be a starter (with West injured). Mahinmi is an upgrade from Pandergraph in every sense, but with him and Plumlee, this team won’t have big guys off the bench scorers (if we give T-Hans away).

  • trifecta3131

    This guy sucks. Plumlee sucks. The entire Pacers offseason is a shame. If we don’t at least get Mayo, this will go down as the worst Pacers offseason I recall.

    We were close to being contenders, so what did Walsh & Pritchard do to get us over the hump…. ummmmm… draft an offensively challeged 7′ white stiff (and don’t defend him by saying he’s playing great in summer camp – it’s D league summer ball); then we follow it up by giftwrapping DC to Dallas for some backup 7′ black stiff who doesn’t even understand the game of bball.

    Nice work, Walsh, you scrub. Go back to NY. Get the hell out of Indiana!

  • Don

    @AMFinocchi: They did’nt trade Tyler Hansbrough for him you idiot, read the reports first next time

  • AMFinocchi

    @Don: maybe I write it wrong. But if what the reports of this page are right, they brought this guy, so they can trade T-Hans for DJ Augustin. If T-Hans goes away, this mountain of muscles it’s his replacement.

  • The Original Evan

    @Don, AMFinocchi didn’t mis-state anything. Try READING the post before you suggest reading reports.

    All these trades will be meaningless if we can bring in Mayo and Green. If it’s just Green I’d still be okay but I would be a little unhappier with all this “salary dumping” we’re doing. It just doesn’t make sense… YET.

  • Mike Tinkle

    We gave away collison cuz lance stephenson is on the rise. He’s about to have a breakout year… Hopefully we can get gerald green too who is a better and younger version of dahntay jones.

  • Jordan

    The Pacers are trying to stay flat, but while other teams are improving, being flat means going backwards. No excitement here. The Pacers won’t be able to beat the Heat or even Chicago at this rate.

  • http://aintnopacerhater.com IU Fan

    here’s a little more on Mahimni and why the pacers wanted him….


  • Derek U

    Lets be honest, at this rate no one will be able to beat the Heat. Not with the roster they’re able to aquire just by the contender.

    Green is a good defender, but offensively the bench is looking even more offensively challenged than ever before. Sigh.

    Walsh took the wind out of my sails this offseason, just his name being mentioned as a Pacer makes me squirm.. May as well have traded D.C. To get dunleavy and troy murphy back. I’d be happier with Murphy than Ian. lol.

  • Special K

    Psycho T wasn’t doing much on offense off the bench against athletic teams, either. He looked grossly overmatched in the Miami series.

    Mahinmi is probably going to be a back-up platoon with Plumlee. Essentially, the Pacers have two foul prone centers in H and M and then Plumlee as their emergency option when both of those guys foul themselves to the bench.

  • Tony

    Sounds like a nice way of saying he sucks.

    18 min per game and you average 3 fouls per game? Can’t score? Bad rebounder for his size? Can’t block shots? No one knows who he is so it doesn’t help people come to the games either.

    Pacers follow up a questionable draft pick with a bad trade….COME BACK LARRY!!!!!

  • Jamie

    We have just signed DJ Augustine and Gerald Green. I think the front office is doing a good job. I like the trade and I like the drafting of Plumlee.

  • Party at the Field House

    Miss DC, but pumped about these new fellas. I like the way things are coming together. Will be especially awesome when we see Hibbert and George take another couple big steps forward next season. Plus, the starting 5 will be more comfortable playing together this season.

    Hoping that Stephenson brings it!