Quick Links

Ian Mahinmi makes Wizards debut in loss to Spurs

Ian Mahinmi makes Wizards debut in loss to Spurs

It took a month into the Wizards' season, but on Saturday night head coach Scott Brooks finally had a full alotment of players, a healthy roster complete with each addition the franchise made this offseason. Their biggest signing, Ian Mahinmi, was the final piece. After rehabbing a partially torn left meniscus for six weeks, he returned to the court on Saturday to face the San Antonio Spurs.

The game itself was one the Wizards will not look back fondly on. They lost 112-100 at home and fell to 5-10 on the season. But they have Mahinmi back and that should improve their team, most notably their second unit defense, moving forward.

"We're happy for him," shooting guard Bradley Beal said. "He's done a terrific job in rehabbing and he worked his tail off to get back on the floor. It's always a good sign for him and a good sign of confidence for the team knowing that he's back and that he worked his way back into it. Once he gets back into game shape and can go full-throttle, it will be good for us."

Getting into better shape is the key, naturally, for a guy who now has to catch up to the rest of the league that is in midseason form. He missed 14 games and looked like it at times during his 14:05 minutes on the court. 

Mahinmi scored one point, blocked one shot and had three fouls in the loss. He took just one shot and registered a -11 rating.

“I knew going into this game that he was going to be rusty, and he was, but he gave us good effort," Brooks said. "It’s going to take him some time. I’m very patient and he understands that we all are. But I like what he brings to our team. He’s a tough player and he just brings a good fiber to our team. I thought tonight’s game, at times he looked good [and] at times he looked rusty. That’s expected."

Mahinmi himself is hopeful it won't take him long to get up to speed. He has already rehabbed for six weeks after having surgery on Oct. 15.

"I'm optimistic. I'm an optimistic guy. I'm just not happy with the result," Mahinmi said. "But I'm looking at the big picture and I just want to play the right way. I want to play the right way. I want to take steps forward. I don't want to take a step back. Tomorrow I will come in and do my work and look at the stuff that we can improve and the stuff that I can improve and move forward."

Mahinmi, who signed a four-year deal worth $64 million in free agency this offseason, said he knew he would be able to return Saturday earlier in the week after feeling good in consecutive practices. The Wizards picked Saturday night, the second game of a back-to-back, to prevent him from playing two straight days right off the bat.

It was a tough assignment, playing against the Spurs in his first game back. San Antonio (14-3) took over in the second quarter and cruised to the victory.

It wasn't a great night for the team overall, but for Mahinmi it was an important one.

"My left knee is pretty good. That's about the only positive point," he said.

[RELATED: Takeaways from the Wizards' double-digit loss to Spurs]

Quick Links

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Keldon Johnson

USA Today Sports Images

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Keldon Johnson

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Keldon Johnson

School: Kentucky
Position: Guard
Age: 19 (turns 21 in October)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 216
Wingspan: 6-9
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 13.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 46.1 FG% (4.6/10.1), 38.1 3PT% (1.2/3.2), 70.3 FT%

Player comparison: Gary Harris, Jerome Robinson

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 15th, Bleacher Report 8th, Sports Illustrated 23rd, Ringer 21st

5 things to know:

*Johnson is considered the best NBA prospect in this year's class from the University of Kentucky. Though the Wildcats usually churn out top-10 picks, he is projected to go somewhere in the back end of the lottery or in the 20s. His teammates Tyler Herro and P.J. Washington are expected to go late in the first round.

*Johnson is an athletic, slashing wing who is quick up and down the floor. His highlights are filled with fastbreak dunks and agile plays around the basket. Johnson, though, didn't participate in the vertical leap measurement at the combine, so there is some mystery there.

*He has a solid outside shot. Johnson made 38.2 percent of his threes on 3.2 attempts per game, which is impressive especially for a freshman. He appears to have smooth mechanics on his jumper and a quick release. Johnson, though, like most young players has to develop his ability to shoot off the dribble.

*Johnson plays with a lot of passion and is known for wearing his emotions on his sleeve. He brings tons of energy to both ends of the floor and that is a good sign for his potential at the next level.

*Johnson has a few local connections. He is from Chesterfield, VA, just south of Richmond. He went to high school at Oak Hill Academy in southwestern Virginia. His brother, Kaleb, plays basketball for Georgetown University. And his other brother, Kyle, played at Old Dominion.

Fit with Wizards: Johnson happens to play the one position the Wizards have solidified, at least in their starting lineup with Bradley Beal. However, they could use more guard depth in general and Beal needs some help behind him.

The Wizards thought they had solved that with Austin Rivers this past season and that didn't work out. The result was Beal leading the NBA in minutes played in the second straight year he appeared in all 82 games.

Iron Man streaks are great, but not ideal for a guy who has a history of leg injuries and a long career ahead of him. Johnson is the type of player who could take some pressure off of Beal and possibly play with him at the three-spot. He would also add shooting, which the Wizards need.

The question would be if he is good enough to pick ninth overall and if that need is enough to justify at that spot. The answer is probably not, but Johnson seems like a guy who could soar up draft boards once workouts begin.

Best highlight video:


Quick Links

Bradley Beal was the first guard cut from the All-NBA teams

Bradley Beal was the first guard cut from the All-NBA teams

Bradley Beal missed out on an All-NBA selection, and therefore, qualification for a supermax contract. Voting tallies show he received the most votes among guards that missed the cut. 

That's small consolation for the only player to average 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists this year, but still not make the All-NBA team. 

Here's a look at just how close Beal came to Kemba Walker, the last guard to sneak in. 

Walker (51 points) beat out Beal (34 points) more narrowly than at any other position. Klay Thompson received 27 points. 

It's rare air to be ranked so closely with guards like Walker and three-time champion Thompson.

Still, that hardly makes up for the earning potential the Wizards star missed out on this summer.

Damian Lillard, who was drafted in the same year as Beal, made second team All-NBA and qualified for a $191 million supermax contract from the Trail Blazers. 

That's a big-money difference for a very close voting tally.

On the flip side, that could mean the Wizards can afford to hang onto Beal. They would have had a difficult time offering him a supermax contract given their current salary cap situation.