Ian Mahinmi: Doing Ian Mahinmi Things

Mar 31, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Alan Anderson (6) shoots against Indiana Pacers center Ian Mahinmi (28) and forward Luis Scola (4) during the first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 31, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Alan Anderson (6) shoots against Indiana Pacers center Ian Mahinmi (28) and forward Luis Scola (4) during the first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

In his 7th year, Ian Mahinmi continued his career arc of doing Ian Mahinmi things.

At this point, the NBA knows who Ian is: He rebounds, he defends the rim, and he throws down a few rim-rattling dunks. Ian excelled at these things throughout the year, but he did miss some time due to a shoulder injury suffered before the season.

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Ian wound up playing 61 games with six starts, and put up relatively normal numbers for him. Mahinmi played well for a Pacers team that needed every good minute it could from its bench players.

He set a career high in total rebounds and assists (though he only had 33 assists in 61 games), and was near his career high from the field.

However, Ian struggled mightily at the line, shooting an alarming 30.4% on the season. That is 31.7 percentage points worse than the 2013-2014 campaign, and 46.4 percentage points worse than his career high. (Odd fact: Mahinmi shot 100% his rookie year on only 9 attempts; this is not counting that year).

Teams began to employ the hack-a-Shaq technique on him at time, forcing him out of a few games and hurting the Pacers in a few others. Of players who shot 50 free throws or more, Ian was 2nd worst, and he was the absolute worst of players who attempted 100 or more, shooting worse than contemporaries (and terrible free throw shooters) Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan.

But while all this is interesting in a train wreck sort of way, it isn’t that big of a detriment to the team or a great representation of what Mahinmi brings to the table. He only went to the line 102 times on the season, or less than twice his game.

What Mahinmi really does is prevent opposing player from scoring inside. He can credibly protect the rim, typically rating almost as Roy Hibbert in field goal percentage against. This year, opposing players shot 42.6% at the rim when Hibbert is within five feet of shooter and 45.5% with Mahinmi out there.

Presumably, Mahinmi wouldn’t fare as well in more minutes (because he fouls a lot) or against starter-level players, but he is also more versatile than the less-mobile Hibbert. Mahinmi can at least bother stretch 5s out to the perimter and stay in front of wings after a switch to some degree.

Really, other than the injuries, this season was just like the past few for Ian Mahinmi. He lost a few minutes throughout the season to Lavoy Allen, but overall Mahinmi maintained his firm, if unspectacular, hold on the backup 5 spot.

Relevant Gif:

Ian2 /

Key Stats:

  • 10.8 PER
  • 4.3 PPG
  • 5.8 RPG
  • 0.8 BPG
  • 55.2 eFG%
  • 30.4% FT%

How He Scores:

IanShotChart /

Ian’s shot chart looks about exactly like you’d expect: a lot of red and orange around the basket, a lot of blue from the outside. Mahinmi was oddly effective on baseline 15 footers, but the rest is as expected.

He finished decently around the basket on dunks, layups, and putbacks, though he had 2-3 games where he got frisky and made some hook shots around the basket as well.

Mahinmi /

Mahinmi scored the vast amount of his points on cuts and putbacks despite the bulk of his plays coming elsewhere.

Obviously, Mahinmi is not a guy that is going to get a lot of plays run for him, but he has proved to be a smart cutter in open space and explosive enough to finish quickly with dunks before the defense can collapse on him and force him to try to pass the ball.

Ian Mahinmi’s Future With the Indiana Pacers

Ian Mahinmi has one year remaining on the four-year, $16 million deal he signed with the Pacers in 2012. That salary million is perhaps a bit pricey for a backup center with such limitations, but Mahinmi has played up to his modest deal.

He has been the constant in the second-string defense and he was once again useful in the reserve unit this season — the first during his tenure that has outperformed expectations. His his presence has also allowed the Pacers to give Roy Hibbert regular rest when he can run some with the first unit.

However, with the Pacers indicating their preference to go smaller and faster, it’s tough to suss out Ian’s future in Indiana. If Roy opts out of his deal this summer, Ian could be stretched beyond his capabilities and thrust into a starting role. While he can protect the rim and is a bit more mobile than Hibbert, he’s also nearly a total zero on offense. Starting Mahinmi would leave opponents free reign to have their centers hang out near the rim and wall off the paint against the Pacers wings without much fear of Mahinmi beating them.

Next: Donald Sloan: the Little Third Stringer That Could

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