For those who think that Rick Carlisle does not like or trust all young players, I give you Ian Mahinmi. Sure, coaches have been known to stray away from younger players but that might be due to the fact they just have not shown the ability to be trusted or dependable in a game situation when the minutes matter. Mahinmi has won over the coaching staff, especially Carlisle, over the course of the season. Carlisle has raved over the work the big man has delivered on a daily basis in practice and his ability to be ready for backup center minutes at the drop of a hat. However, a new wrinkle has been added over the last two games. Mahinmi is getting minutes at the power forward position.
During the early stages of the season, Carlisle mentioned that Mahinmi was viewed as a center. So if that is the case, why the sudden shift towards throwing him in the power forward position? "It’s something different," said Carlisle. " I think it is something that we can continue to try to develop with him. I think it just expands his game and expands our possibilities. He’s one our best defenders and he’s one of our best rebounders. From time to time, we’ll look at it in games and in the meantime, we’re working on it in practice." That will definitely be music to the ears of my Mavericks Outsider Report Co-Host Rhylan Rowe. He has one major demand:, "I need me some Mahinmi!"
The 6'11" former project from the Spurs organization was signed as a free agent this summer with the Mavericks. The Frenchman signed a two-year minimum contract in July 2010. The second year is fully non-guaranteed if he is waived on or before June 30, 2011. Based on the fact that Donnie Nelson made sure to mention Mahinmi as a piece for the future, it appears he should expect to be a Maverick for a while.
As a guy that is looking for an opportunity, Mahinmi is ready for any chance to get on the court. "I’ve been working a lot at both spots, the center and power forward," Mahinmi said speaking exclusively to MMB. "It’s been great for a guy like me that can get any type of minutes, even at the four (power forward) or the five (center), and I think it’s great for the team in case something happens, you never know. For me to be able to step in and play the four or play the five, I think it helps everybody and it helps me a lot."
DeShawn Stevenson has also been a player that has shifted positions as he has moved from shooting guard to the small forward position during stretches of the season. Shawn Marion has been floating between the small and power forward positions as well. Both players have said that the respective shifts are not very difficult for them. That does not mean the shift between the power forward and center position is just as easy of a transition. "It is different, especially in our system," Mahinmi said. "The four is more spaced out so when I am out there playing the four, I really focus on spacing out the floor and play off of the other guys and the five is more of an inside, pick-and-roll type of guy. You’ve got to be able to step out and knock down a little jumper here and there."
Mahinmi will need to put extra work in on the practice court to build up a respectable jumper. He has range out to 16-18 feet away from the basket. Now, he just needs to build more consistency and confidence in the jumper. He needs to do that while maintaining his tenacity on the boards and his energy level. One thing is for sure, Mahinmi has the full support of his teammates and the coaching staff. With Carlisle's vocal support for the young man, you can tell that Mahinmi's confidence has really received a boost. "It’s great," said Mahinmi. "He’s given me great confidence. When you know you’ve got the support from the head coach and from the assistant coaches and all of the players, it’s great, it gives you great confidence. It makes me want to step on the floor every night and play my heart out."
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