The Indiana Pacers have had one of the better off-season of any team in the NBA. Recently the completed a trade that landed them a solid offensive reserve big man in Luis Scola to go along with their signings of Chris Copeland, C.J. Watson and Donald Sloan this off-season. Considering this is a team that took the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals this past season, the Pacers are sitting pretty.
Though their additions from this off-season help address the Pacers’ biggest issue from last season, depth and bench scoring, it may be a bench player who is returning that will be the most important part of Indiana’s bench as they try to make a run at the top of the East.
Ian Mahinmi played in 80 games for the Pacers last season and was a solid backup to Indiana’s star center, Roy Hibbert. Mahinmi averaged five points, 3.9 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 16.5 minutes per game while shooting 45.3 percent from the field. Most importantly, he was able to successfully hold the fort down in the post while Hibbert takes a breather.
However, if the Pacers are really looking to make the leap to an elite level NBA team, they are going to need more from Mahinmi than just holding the fort down. They aren’t going to need him to be dynamic, but they are going to need for him to be above-average in at least one aspect of the game. Whether it be rebounding, defense or even just finishing at the rim, Mahinmi has to bring more to the table than just being a serviceable backup.
The 26-year-old Mahinmi has made a career of being that serviceable type of player in this league, but the Pacers need him to be a little more. They know he’s not going to be an elite game-changer, but he has the potential to give them a little more in at least one area. If the Pacers plan on toppling the Heat and making it to the NBA Finals, Mahinmi will actually be a big part of that.