Ian Mahinmi has transformed from a one-dimensional specialist into a surprisingly capable two-way player.
Mahinmi grew up in the NBA as a project player—big, raw, energetic, and foul-prone. Defense gave him a niche to excuse his lack of ball skills and slot him into a particular, finite role. Then, in a single season at age 29, Mahinmi transformed from a one-dimensional specialist into a surprisingly capable two-way player. It was as if Mahinmi had struck an oddly humble deal at a crossroads: his soul to take for the sudden ability to execute fluid pick-and-rolls at a professional level. No more was Mahinmi fumbling or fouling his way to the rim. Most Pacers games would feature some play—a read and pass on the move, some smooth footwork into a coordinated finish—that was clearly beyond the old Mahinmi of old. These sequences were too technical and too regular to be flukes. This is apparently who Mahinmi is now. The new iteration of Mahinmi is both a player capable of steadying one of the top defenses in the league and helping an offense nudge an offense along. Even a somewhat balanced center is a player of considerable value. (Last year: Not ranked)
+ Surprisingly effective on hook shots and flip shots in the high paint
+ One of the better defensive centers in the league (finished No. 5 in DRPM)
– Little in the way of post-up skills. Mid-range jumper too erratic to be reliable
– Still gets into foul trouble more often than you’d like for a starting center