January 26, 2012

Mahinmi ready to practice what's been preached

The backup has learned from some of the best.

DALLAS -- By all accounts, it's good to be Ian Mahinmi.

Now in his fourth season, the 6-foot-11 center had a minimal role in helping the Dallas Mavericks win last year's NBA title.

On Wednesday, Mahinmi picked up his sparkling new ring for winning that title.

Now, Mahinmi has a baby who's due to arrive in late March. And a wedding that will occur in San Antonio in the summer of 2013.

"I had a pretty good year last year and this year is looking good, so I'm going to keep those blessings coming," Mahinmi said. "It's great stuff for me."

What's also great for Mahinmi is that after being the Mavs' third-string center last year behind Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood, he has elevated to backup status behind Haywood.

While the promotion came primarily because Chandler is no longer with the Mavs, the truth of the matter is that Mahinmi has made tremendous progress under the watchful eye of coach Rick Carlisle.

"He's made gradual steady progress since the beginning of last year," Carlisle said. "The guys, as they get more familiar with him, they gain more trust in him, because not only is he active and effective around the basket offensively, but he's one of our best defenders as well."

While Haywood is mostly a plodder-type player, Mahinmi is jackrabbit quick.

But then again, Mahinmi doesn't mind telling his listeners that he's learned from the best on how to become a complete all-around player.

A 2005 first-round pick -- No. 28 overall -- by the San Antonio Spurs, Mahinmi stayed and played in his native country of France for two years before joining the Spurs in 2007.

Now 25, Mahinmi wound up playing three seasons for the Spurs, affording him numerous opportunities to learn from perennial All-Star Tim Duncan.

"With Tim it was more about being humble," Mahinmi said. "Tim always stayed the same. He can have a huge night with 30 points and 20 rebounds, and still be humble, and he had this consistency that made him, for me, one of the best pros ever. I know I'm still so young, but I want to be consistent, I want everybody to know what they can get from me every night, and that's the main thing I got from Tim."

Mahinmi also soaked in an abundance of knowledge from Chandler, who signed a four-year, $58 million free agent contract with the New York Knicks during the off-season.

"With Tyson, it's his energy and his willingness every day that's good," said Mahinmi, who averages 8.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. "For me to be able to see that on an everyday basis really motivated me.

"Throughout my career I really wanted to be that type of guy that day-in and day-out -- or good and bad days -- I really want to be that type of guy that's filled with energy, and I want other people to feed off my energy. I'm working on it, and hopefully I can be that type of guy."

Carlisle is overjoyed with the notion that Mahinmi presents the Mavs with a look totally different look from what Haywood brings to the table.

"With the nature of this season and the fact that we need to keep platooning a lot of guys in and out, Mahinmi and Haywood has given us a real terrific one-two punch at the center position," Carlisle said. "Brendan's bigger and stronger, Ian is small, but he's quicker.

"We get two different dimensions at our center position, which is a real plus for us."

Because he's played besides Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Robert Horry, Jason Terry, Chandler and Duncan during his career, Mahinmi has been surrounded by a wealth of talent.

"If you look at my résumé I've been around a lot of good guys," Mahinmi said. "I'd have a lot of mentors and played with a lot of guys that are great guys and great pros, so I've been blessed with that.

"If I can be a combination of all those guys, I think I'd be a heckuva player."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

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