Now healthy, Ian Mahinmi still struggling to provide value for Wizards

Washington announced Tuesday afternoon that they will not pick up the fourth year option on Chris McCullough’s rookie deal. The move means only two of the ten players Washington acquired during the summer of 2016 or during the following season are guaranteed to be under contract in Washington for 2018-19. Yet, for all the misses Washington made on players last year, the biggest whiff may still be on the roster: Ian Mahinmi.

After an injury-plagued first season with Washington, this was supposed to be the year he would get his feet back under him and maybe, just maybe, challenge an aging Marcin Gortat for the starting center position. Unfortunately, he’s struggled out of the gate to start the 2017-2018 campaign.

Mahinmi was supposed to be the defensive anchor for the second unit, but he’s been anything but so far. The seven-footer has only turned away just three shots so far in 94 minutes of action this season. What’s also troubling is that he’s become a foul machine, averaging 7.3 personal fouls per 36 minutes. And although the sample size is minuscule, the Wizards’ defensive rating jumps from 100.5 to 109.8 when he’s on the floor, even though he’s mostly playing against reserves.

Not only has he failed to become the defensive anchor Washington hoped he would be, but his offensive game isn’t helping either. Since he gets next to no offensive plays run for him, it’s almost as if he feels that he has to shoot every time he touches the ball because there is no guarantee that he’ll see the ball again. Often this ends with Mahinmi trying to score out of the post; which hasn’t gone well this season.

On the season, he’s just 11-23 from the field (47.8 percent), he’s only attempted 6 free throws, and has more turnovers (7) than assists (5).

With Markieff Morris set to return soon, things could get more challenging for Mahinmi. Scott Brooks recently said that Morris will get some run at the center position when he returns, which will likely cut into Mahinmi’s minutes. That, coupled with Jason Smith being freer to play more at the 5 with Morris back, could put a serious squeeze on Mahinmi’s playing time.

On paper, his numbers don’t look terrible, however, you have to squint really hard to find a defensive stat that bodes in the big man’s favor. That’s not good for a guy who was brought specifically for his defensive prowess. As traditional centers like Mahinmi disappear from the NBA with each passing day, the Wizards’ front office could be facing a difficult decision with what to do about their fourth-highest paid player sooner rather than later.


Hornets at Wizards Final Score: Wizards ride a hot third quarter to beat the Hornets, 118-111

John Wall logged his 50th double-double of the season with 23 points, 13 assists, and six steals as the Wizards snap their three-game losing streak and beat the Hornets, 118-111. Bradley Beal added 19 points for Washington while Jason Smith scored 17 including a career-high, five made three-pointers.

This one didn’t start out great for the Wizards. Otto missed his first four shots of the game and Gortat missed his first jumper as the Wizards started just 1-7 from the field and found themselves in an early hole. With Washington down 22-14, the starters exiting the game. The bench came right in and picked things up highlighted by Jennings getting out in transition to find Bogdanovic for a wide open three. However, Washington trailed 24-22 after one.

The bench carried that good play over to the second quarter and started the period on an 8-0 run to regain the lead, 32-30. But then Kemba Walker caught fire. Walker did it all for Charlotte as the All-Star scored 17 points in the quarter to stretch the Hornets halftime lead to 12, 63-51.

Scotty Brooks will want to bottle up his halftime speech from this game because the Wizards came out guns blazing to start the third quarter. Washington was able to use a 10-0 run to trim the lead to one, highlighted by this play where Wall raced out in transition to find a cutting Beal for the throw down slam.

Washington started the quarter 10-13 from the field and they’d outscore Charlotte 36-18 in the period as they regained control, 87-81.

Kelly Oubre made his mark on the game in the fourth quarter. After missing a wide open dunk, Oubre made up for it with two wide open threes. The Wizards led by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter but the Hornets had one last ditch effort. Frank Kaminsky hit two threes with under two minutes remaining to cut the Wizards lead to four, 108-104. But with 36.8 seconds remaining, Wall would find Otto in the corner for a three-pointer to seal the game as the Wizards win, 118-111.

Wizards get hot from three-point range

Washington shot 50 percent from three-point range tonight as they connected on 17-34 attempts. As mentioned, Jason Smith knocked down a career-high five three-pointers to help the Wizards win this one. John Wall and Kelly Oubre also added three three-pointers apiece for Washington as they were able to get clean looks from distance tonight.

Wizards get excellent production from the bench

Washington’s bench combined for 45 points tonight led by Jason Smith with 17 and Kelly Oubre with 15. Unlike during the five-game hot streak for Oubre, he did most of his damage tonight either from distance or in the mid-range. Smith led the Wizards with nine three-point attempts but knocked down an efficient, 55.6 percent of those.

The bench is peaking at the best time possible as this team enters the playoffs.

The Wizards can’t escape old ghosts

Washington’s defense wasn’t that great save for the third quarter where they outscored Charlotte 36-18. They were crushed on the boards in the first half but the lopsided third quarter evened things out that you won’t be able to catch in the box score.

Yes, the Wizards got the win. But once again, they let another team eclipse the 110+ mark.

Wizards at Kings final score: Beal leads Washington to a comeback 130-122 overtime win

Bradley Beal scored a game-high 38 points as the Wizards climb back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to beat the Kings in overtime, 130-122. John Wall also had a very impressive game with 25 points and 12 assists while Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 18 and 17 points respectively as the Wizards win in Sacramento for the first time since 2009.

Buddy Hield started the night 3-3 from the field in what looked like a sign of things to come as the rookie scored eight points in the blink of an eye. Washington on the other hand, hit a bit of a dry spell midway through the quarter and the Kings used it to their advantage getting out on a 12-4 run for an early 17-12 lead. The Wizards found their footing, at least on the offensive end, but Hield exploded for 13 points in the quarter as the Kings shot 56 percent from the field for a 32-28 lead after the first quarter.

The newly ramped up bench did their part in the second quarter, mainly in part due to Bogdanovic. Like we’ve become accustomed to, Bogdanovic provided instant offense but this time from close in as his three-pointers weren’t falling. Unfortunately for the Wizards, their defense was just as bad in the second quarter. The Wizards provided no resistance as the Kings got plenty of open looks as well as easy baskets around the rim. Washington gave up 36 points in the second quarter and found themselves down 12, 68-56 at halftime.

The Wizards started the second half on a quick 7-0 run with five straight points coming from Beal, but the Kings counterpunched. Led by Anthony Tolliver and Ben McLemore who combined for 18 points in the third quarter, the Kings were able to stretch the lead to 15 entering the fourth as things looked bleak for the Wizards.

Jason Smith led the charge for the Washington in the fourth quarter with a personal 7-0 run. Bradley Beal would hit threes on back-to-back possessions as the Wizards used a 17-4 run to tie the game at 107. The teams traded baskets down the stretch but Bradley Beal hit this tough step-back jumper to give the Wizards a two-point lead with 37.5 seconds to play.

Wall had a chance to win this one in regulation but his shot rimmed out and we’d be going to overtime, all tied up at 116.

After four quick points from Bogdanovic to start the overtime period, John Wall drove to the lane, kicked it to Morris who found Beal in the corner for a wide open three to give Washington a 122-120 lead. And with the Wizards up 124-122, Wall and Morris ran their patented pick-and-roll resulting in a Morris alley-oop to give the Wizards a 126-122 lead.

Washington completes the comeback, wins 130-122.

Defense was optional in the first half

The Kings were on fire in the first half knocking down 51.1 percent of their shots as Washington didn’t provide much resistance. The Kings, who rank in the bottom third of the league in scoring, hung 68 points on Washington in the first half behind some hot shooting from three-point range as they were 8-12 from distance. The newly acquired Buddy Hield scored 18 points in the first half (7-10) including going 4-6 from three-point range as the Wizards had no answer for the rookie.

Beal shines late

Bradley Beal played well the entire game but picked the fourth quarter and overtime sessions to shine. Beal scored 21 of his game-high 38 points in the fourth quarter and overtime periods to help aid the Wizards’ comeback. Beal had it all going late. He was knocking down threes, hitting shots in the mid-range, and attacking the rim.

Yes, Bradley Beal has been terrific this season but it’s nights like tonight that remind you; he’s earned that max deal.

The reserve frontcourt outshines their starting counterparts

The frontcourt of Jason Smith and Ian Mahinmi both outplayed their respective counterparts in Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. Mahinmi and Smith combined for 18 points and 13 rebounds while Morris and Gortat combined for 12 points and 15 rebounds. But it was Smith and Mahinmi who Brooks opted to go with the entire fourth quarter as the Wizards made their comeback.

Smith sparked the Wizards comeback with a personal 7-0 run in the fourth quarter while Mahinmi was there to gather offensive rebounds (3) for easy put-backs. The Washington frontcourt was a huge weakness at one point in the season, now it’s turning into one of their key strengths.

Wizards at Suns: Bogdanovic scores 29 as the Wiz burn the Suns, 131-127

Bojan Bogdanovic leads the way with 29 points including a perfect 16-16 from the free-throw line as the Wizards burn the Suns, 131-127. John Wall added 25 points and 14 assists while the two reserve big men, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith both had one of their best games of the season with 15 and 17 points respectively.

The Wizards were all business to begin this game. After a semi-slow start, Bradley Beal took things into his own hands connecting on three of his first four shots to give Washington an early lead. Wall would find Beal in transition for three on back-to-back possessions as the Wizards got out to an early 21-14 lead. The Wizards shot 50 percent in the opening period as they led, 38-25.

Things got very chippy early on in the second quarter. Jason Smith set a hard screen on Tyler Ulis which didn’t sit well with Jared Dudley. Dudley and Smith went chest to chest while Brandon Jennings made a few hand gestures while scuffling with some of the Suns’ players. Dudley and Jennings would be ejected as a result.

The frontcourt reserves of Mahinmi and Smith continued to provide much-needed production as Mahinmi was finishing baskets around the hole while Smith was hitting his mid-range shot as the lead was stretched to 22, 56-34 midway through the second quarter.

A combination of the Wizards getting complacent and the Suns catching fire let Phoenix back in this game. Phoenix used a 22-4 run and trimmed the lead to as little as one, but still trailed 68-61 at halftime.

That sluggishness carried over to the second half as the Suns outscored the Wizards 15-2 to start the third quarter at the blink of an eye. Washington started the half 0-10 from the field and was quickly in an 11-point hole, 81-70. Jumpers by Jason Smith and drives by John Wall for easy layups got the Wizards back in this one.

Washington countered with a 12-0 run of their own to regain the lead 82-81 and led, 94-92 after three quarters.

The teams traded baskets for much of the fourth quarter but it was John Wall who gave the Wizards some breathing room on some very nice drives in traffic and finishes at the rim.

Phoenix hit some desperation threes down the stretch but Washington would hit their free throws to close this one out.

Washington starts the road swing off with a 131-127 victory.

Bojan Bogdanovic continues to come up big

As mentioned, Bogdanovic scored a team-high 29 points as he went a perfect 16-16 from the line. He was also very efficient from the field where he shot 5-9 overall and 3-6 from three-point range. Brooks opted to go with the hot hand in Bogdanovic over Porter down the stretch as the Wizards closed this game out. I don’t know if this is a sign of things to come but it’s nice to know that Brooks has that option now.

Bench comes up big

Outside of Bogdanovic, Mahinmi and Smith played probably their best games in a Wizards uniform this season. Mahinmi scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and had seven steals as he logged extended minutes due to Gortat being sidelined with foul trouble. Smith, on the other hand, was 6-7 from the field and knocked down both of his three-pointers for 17 points off the bench. It’s nice to know that the Wizards can count on Smith to stay ready, a guy who’s received limited minutes since the All-Star break.

The reserves combined for a season-high 65 points tonight.

The frontcourt starters continue to struggle

The trio of Porter-Morris-Gortat stayed in their funk tonight. That trio combined for 14 points on a combined 5-19 shooting while Otto Porter missed his only three-point attempt. It’s not time to push the panic button yet but this is definitely a concern. Gortat was forced to the bench with foul trouble but Morris and Porter can’t seem to find their rhythm. Porter took just six shots including one three-pointer while Morris was just 1-5 from the field.

Fortunately, the bench stepped up for the Wizards tonight. In games past, this probably would have been too much to overcome for a victory.

Grading the Wizards’ Free Agent Signings

As of today, July 11th, the Wizards currently have 12 players under contract. The team made some smart moves yet equally head-scratching acquisitions all in a matter of days during the first week of free agency as the salary cap ballooned from $70 million to $94 million. As the roster slowly forms into fruition, did the Wizards do enough to be competitive in the east again?

Lets break it down.

Bradley Beal – The Wizards were pigeonholed here. Either give Bradley Beal a maximum deal or let him test the waters of unrestricted free agency. The team chose the former in signing Beal to a five-year deal worth $128 million dollars. At first, this looked horrible. But then the Raptors signed DeMar DeRozan to a five-year deal worth $145 million which made Beal’s contract a little bit easier to comprehend.

Regardless, giving a max deal to a player who hasn’t played a full NBA season in his four-year career is already giving the Wizards’ faithful heartburn. Beal oozes potential but has already endured a laundry list of injuries. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld to have a defibrillator handy for every time Beal falls to the floor. With that said, the Wizards had no other option.

Even with his injuries, Beal has improved his game year-after-year and averaged a career-high 17.4 points this past season while shooting 44.9 percent from the field. Once deemed a knockdown shooter, Beal has added to his offensive repertoire and is now able to create his own shot and attack the hole.

As mentioned, the Wizards had no option but to offer Beal the max as word around the NBA was that several teams were going to offer him a max deal if the team didn’t. For this upcoming season to be deemed a success, he has to play in at least 70 games, average 20+ points and shoot at least 80 percent from the free-thrown line. Then again, if he gets injured; we’re going to look back and add this contract to the list of max deals gone wrong (Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison).

Grade: C+

Ian Mahinmi – Mahinmi picked the best season of his career to post career-highs. Mahinmi averaged 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Pacers last season. And he cashed in as a result to the tone of $64 million dollars over four years. Not too shabby for starting center about to turn backup center.

Mahinmi has range that stretches 15 feet but does most of his damage around the rim and in the 5-9 foot range. His game is very similar to Gortat’s in that he’s most effective rolling to the hole but can also step back and knock down a jumper.

On the defensive end, he can serve as somewhat of a rim protector evidenced by his 1.1 blocks per game in just 25 minutes of play. Those numbers won’t jump out at you but were quietly better than guys like Steven Adams, Kenneth Farried and LaMarcus Aldridge.

The only downside? Since he goes for a lot of blocks, he has a knack for getting dunked on.

Grade: B-

Trey Burke – Burke technically wasn’t a free agent however the Wizards traded a future second round pick for the backup point guard. After starting 111 games in his first two seasons, Burke was demoted to a reserve role and didn’t start a game for the Jazz during the 2015-2016 season. As expected, his stats dipped a bit as he averaged 10.6 points in just 21.3 minutes of play. In addition, he notched just 2.3 assists per game and 3.9 assists per 36 minutes. That puts him in the company of players like O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless and Kirk Hinrich.

Burke can be an asset off the bench but needs to focus on setting players up more. Ramon Sessions was a score first point guard and as a result, the Wizards’ second unit often struggled to score last season as the ball would get stuck in the post with little to no ball movement if they couldn’t score in transition.

It’s essential that Burke sets up his teammates and focuses on pushing the ball when John Wall is resting. Burke hasn’t lived up to the hype of a top-10 pick; but trading a future second round pick for his $3.3 million per year contract (rookie contract) is a very low risk move for the front office.

Grade: B

Tomas Satoransky – After four years, the Wizards are finally bringing over Tomas Satoransky who they drafted in 2012 but has been playing for FC Barcelona ever since. The Wizards are paying Satoransky just $9 million over three years. A very good value contract on somewhat of an unknown talent.

Satoransky is a combo guard but is more comfortable with the ball in his hands. At 6’7″ he stands tall for a point guard and can pose as a potential mismatch against the other team’s reserve point guard. Satoransky’s ceiling is that of an average role player in the NBA. But since the team is paying him just $3 million per year; there’s not a whole lot to complain about here.

Grade: B

Andrew NicholsonThe Wizards signed restricted free agent Nicholson to a four-year $26 million dollar deal as the Orlando Magic opted not to re-sign the big man. The Wizards overpaid for Nicholson. No other teams reportedly were interested except the Wizards so the Wizards held the cards yet opted not to play hardball.

Regardless, Nicholson will serve as the primary backup for Markieff Morris. Nicholson is best around the hole but has range that stretches out to the three-point line. In a league predicated on efficiency, Nicholson has a very effective field goal percentage for shots between 20-24 feet, aka long two’s. The least efficient shot in basketball. Interestingly, that number dips to 34.6 percent for mid-range jumpers.

The bottom line is, Nicholson is best around the rim but also makes the defense respect his shot. He should be serviceable for the Wizards it’s just I think they could have gotten away with paying him much less money.

Grade: C-

Jason Smith – Let me start this out with the grade….. F. As in what the F. The Wizards used a majority of their remaining cap space to sign Smith to a three-year $16 million dollar deal. To put things in perspective, Jared Sullinger, a much better player, signed a one-year $6 million dollar deal.

The Wizards wasted their remaining cap space on a player who’ll receive minimal to no minutes this season. You can’t spin this signing in a positive way.

Final Grade: C+

The Wizards had an OK offseason. They went all in on Kevin Durant and whiffed but were able to salvage the offseason by signing several serviceable players. They overpaid for three players (Beal, Mahinmi, Smith) but were able to sign guys like Trey Burke and Tomas Satoransky on very reasonable contracts.

The Wizards had a very ho-hum free agency. No home runs yet didn’t make any egregious errors either. Sounds like your standard Washington Wizards offseason.