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Player Review: Ian Mahinmi

by Mark Montieth | askmontieth@gmail.com

June 21, 2013, 2:15 PM

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Age: 26
Years Pro: 5
Status: Has three more years at $4 million per season on his contract.
Key Stats: Averaged 5 points and 3.9 rebounds while playing 16.5 minutes per game.

There were times during the season when the biggest impression Ian Mahinmi left on the media covering the Pacers was in the locker room – with his wardrobe. This is a man comfortable enough in his skin to wear orange socks with a gray suit, after all. Don't worry, it's a French thing.

On the court, he fulfilled the role the Pacers envisioned for him until the All-Star break, but his production dropped off the rest of the season. He was an absolute sensation in the pre-season, looking at times like an equal to Roy Hibbert. In five appearances, he scored 60 points and reached double figures in the final four of them despite never playing more than 24 minutes. He hit 23-of-36 field goal attempts (64 percent) and 14-of-18 free throws.

The regular season brought a sudden drop-off, but still featured steady play. He scored one point in 19 minutes in the season opener, and didn't have a really “good” game until the 15th of the season, when he finished with 11 points and six rebounds against the Lakers in Los Angeles. He went on to score in double figures seven times before the All-Star break.

If we had been having this discussion then, there would have been some debate about who the Pacers should be starting at center. The final pre-break game against Charlotte, in fact, showcased the options. Hibbert played well, and in fact predicted the turnaround that was coming for him by contributing 10 points and eight rebounds in a confident, efficient performance, but played just 18 minutes because of foul trouble. Mahinmi, meanwhile, came off the bench to play 26 minutes, score 10 points, grab five rebounds and block two shots.

At that point of the season, Mahinmi had hit 48 percent of his field goal attempts. Hibbert had hit 41 percent.

We know what happened from there. Hibbert regained his All-Star form and peaked in the playoffs. Mahinmi, meanwhile, reached double figures in just one more game the rest of the season. He wasn't much of a factor in the playoffs, averaging 1.6 points on 45 percent shooting and 2.3 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game, but Hibbert's superlative play didn't leave much time or need for help from him.

Mahinmi has the physical tools to be the backup center the Pacers need and has played well enough in stretches to prove he's the right man for the job. Good ones are difficult to come by, and the odds of finding a better one at an affordable rate are slim, unless there's one in the draft – and a rookie would need time to develop. The Pacers are in a win-now mode, and likely will keep him in their plans.

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