Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Fountain of Youth: Minutes for Ian Mahinmi
By Jeff Caplan
LOS ANGELES -- Rick Carlisle has used 13 players more than once and he's gone as deep as 11 before halftime. But, in meaningful, high-intensity games, it is apparent that Carlisle will shorten his bench, too.
That's what he did in Monday's loss at the Los Angeles Lakers. Carlisle matched L.A. by limiting his bench to four players. Carlisle ultimately played his reserves longer, with Jason Terry logging a team-high 34:21 and Lamar Odom and Ian Mahinmi each playing about 24 minutes.
Mahinmi, it is clear, is the one young Dallas Mavericks player who has earned consistent playing time, and even more time in some games, than starter Brendan Haywood. A most intriguing aspect to Mahinmi is his ability to catch the basketball, make a fluid move and score. He's shown smooth moves down low and going off the glass as well as a soft jumper from the baseline and up top.
Mahinmi has made Carlisle's life a bit easier by shoring up the center position after Tyson Chandler's departure. The Mavs desperately tried to add big bodies just in case, but Mahinmi's progress has meant Sean Williams is playing in the D-League and Brandan Wright being relegated mostly to garbage time.
Against the Lakers, Mahinmi had nine points and 10 rebounds, while Haywood managed a free throw and seven boards.
The Mavs' other young players will just have to take their minutes when they can get them, against weaker opponents, in garbage time, in back-to-backs or at the end of long stretches like this season's popular four-games-in-five-nights sequence.
Dominique Jones was assigned to the Texas Legends on Sunday and even with Vince Carter's sprained foot taking him out of the lineup for at least one game and likely more, Jones won't be recalled just yet. And then there's Rodrigue Beaubois, the third-year guard who did not get off the bench in Monday's game, but could be looking at another window of opportunity in light of Carter's injury.
Jason Kidd's recent four-game hiatus with back spasms allowed Beaubois to get increased minutes and after some initial criticism by his coach, Beaubois turned in some steady performances the Mavs will need as Carlisle carefully navigates minutes through the compressed schedule.
"I don’t know the way he is going to use me, so I have to be ready," Beaubois said after Tuesday's practice. "I have to bring my energy on D."
The lithe, 6-foot-2 combo guard is averaging 5.3 minutes on just 37.3 percent shooting (and worse on 3s), but he did have a 15-point outburst last week and Carlisle credited him for playing a more disciplined brand of defense.
"He's in the picture always," Carlisle said of Beaubois' status in the rotation.
Only now, for a second time in as many weeks, he has a chance to bring more clarity to his role.