Spurs sign Mahinmi. Huh?

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Ian MahinmiThe Spurs today announced that they have signed French big man Ian Mahinmi. The Spurs drafted Mahinmi with the 28th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, and although he was there to shake David Stern’s hand and put on his Spurs cap, you wouldn’t have found Mahinmi’s name anywhere in the draft guide that year.
Even after a few years, Mahinmi still hasn’t done much to garner a lot of attention. Last season, the 6-11 forward averaged just over 4 points and 3 boards in 12.7 minutes per game for Pau-Orthez. I got a chance to watch a few of Mahinmi’s games on NBA TV last year, and from what I saw, he’s not quite ready for the NBA.
Do the Spurs know something I don’t or are they signing him to their 14th roster spot just to send him off to Austin and continue developing in the D League? If they do end up sending him to the Toros, I think it’s a good move. They bring him over now and keep him closer to San Antonio while allowing him to continue to develop his game where he will get more playing time in a system that is similar to the NBA.
But if the Spurs are signing him to keep him on the roster and expect him to contribute, I’d say they’re one or two seasons early. Mahinmi is still very raw, is foul-prone and at times looked lost on the floor during those games I watched of him with Pau.
I see a lot of potential in Ian, though and think in a few years he could be a good contributor for the Spurs. I watched some tape of him when he played for Le Havre and his game looked similar to that of a young Kevin Garnett. Of course this was an 18-year-old playing in the French League, but he is athletic and can get up and down the court pretty quickly. He’s also pretty active on the boards, but he’ll need to work on strength and conditioning and establishing himself in the paint without fouling before he’ll be able to really compete with NBA bigs.
That was evident when after a decent first two games in the Rocky Mountain Revue last summer, he ended up struggling against Atlanta’s Shelden Williams and Philadelphia’s Harold Jamison. He also collected 38 total fouls during the summer league, eight of which came in a 17-minute stretch against Jamison and the 76ers.
I wouldn’t expect much more from a 19-year-old French kid. Mahinmi, now 20, is no Tony Parker. I’m just hoping the Spurs aren’t expecting another French phenom this early.

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Michael is the founder and editor of ProjectSpurs.com. He has a long history in journalism, sports and online media. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others.