Washington Wizards 2017 Season Review: Ian Mahinmi

Washington Wizards front office didn’t get their top options in the 2016 offseason, and ended up spending a large portion of its salary cap on backup center Ian Mahinmi. He was expected to bring a starter’s level talent to the bench unit, but ended up only playing 36 games because of various injuries.

Regular Season Stats: 31 Games, 5.6 PPG (58.6 FG%), 4.8 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 1.1 SPG 17.9 MPG

Playoff Stats: 5 Games, 2.8 PPG (55.6 FG%), 2.2 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 0.2 SPG 12.6 MPG

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be posting individual player reviews for the guys that ended the season in a Washington Wizards uniform. So far we’ve reviewed:

Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Jason Smith

Tomas Satoransky

Trey Burke

Brandon Jennings

Bojan Bogdanovic

The Wizards’ third highest paid player this season was newcomer Ian Mahinmi. He was brought in to provide rim protection off the bench, but the fit seemed sketchy from the jump.

In the summer of 2016, the Wizards didn’t get a meeting with big fish free agent Kevin Durant. They came down to the final two teams selected for Al Horford, but he ultimately signed with Boston.

Fans wondered who was even left for the team to spend its max salary cap room on. It eventually became a 4-year/$64 Million contract for Mahinmi, a player with injury concerns, coming off his first season as a starter.

Now Mahinmi is a large body, who can move rather quickly for his size. Still, the Wizards signed a player that couldn’t share the floor with incumbent center Marcin Gortat. Although the team wouldn’t say so, it seemed like this was a signing for the future, making Gortat expendable.

Instead that didn’t happen. Mahinmi got hurt before the season even started. He ended up requiring knee surgery ten days before opening day. The man many predicted would be a starter midseason, would have to sit 4-6 weeks.

Of course, that original diagnosis would prove to be the best the team and fans could hope for.

He played his first game of the season on November 26th against San Antonio. Shortly thereafter we’d learn that Mahinmi had injured his other knee, and would be out indefinitely. In December he received platelet-rich plasma injections in both knees. In the end, Mahinmi would end up missing 50 of the team’s first 51 games.

When he finally did return on February 8th, Ian needed a few games to get into shape understandably. In March, the team began to see a player capable of providing consistent defense and energy on the bench unit. Was he worth $64 Million? Nope. But he began to show his worth.

In March, Mahinmi was consistently part of the Wizards finishing lineup, relegating Marcin Gortat to the bench. It’s no coincidence that Gortat’s lowest scoring month of the season was March (7.3 PPG). That was the only month besides the two game October where he didn’t average 10 points.

When Mahinmi was playing deep minutes, Brooks gave him a “leash” because of his “verticality”, the term his ex-teammate Roy Hibbert made popular. Opposing players who drove to the hoop faced a much stiffer challenge with at the helm. Although listed one inch shorter, Mahinmi just had a larger presence.

And just as things looked great, two starting centers on the roster, it all went away. In the second to last game of the regular season, Mahinmi went down with a calf injury. It ended up sidelining him for the first eight games of the playoffs.

When he came back, he was a shell of his former self. He wasn’t as quick laterally. He couldn’t jump as high. And his finishes weren’t as strong as previously.

We can only hope that Ian has a more healthy 2017-2018. With the team in a tight salary cap situation, the team may look to move one of its centers. Gortat will be earning $12 million next season while Mahinmi will be making $16 Million.

Trading one of the two would free up space, but it’s unclear what Washington could get in return. In addition, can the team trade Gortat, knowing the injury history of Mahinmi.

In the end, considering he played only 36 games during the regular season and postseason, it’s hard to rate his season as anything above average. Add on the money he made, and it’d be easy to give him a worse grade than I did.

Grade: D

Regarding Gortat and Mahinmi, It feels like these two are locked in to the team for another season, but only time will tell.