Ian Mahinmi has attempted eight three-pointers in his entire 10-year NBA career — and missed them all.
He’s launched two already this preseason — and it’s a sight Washington Wizards fans may want to get used to.
The 6-foot-11 center made his first one in Monday’s preseason game against the New York Knicks and smiled as the bench erupted in jubilation. He later attempted a step-back three but missed.
“I told him be ready to shoot and he did — I didn’t tell to be ready to shoot two, though,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said jokingly after Tuesday’s practice at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in southeast D.C. “I give him credit. He understands that the game is changing. He’s been working on his [three-point shooting] for two years now.”
Mahinmi, who turns 32 next month, said it’s about evolving and “keeping an open mind.”
“You have to be like Play-Doh,” said Mahinmi, who recorded 312 rebounds and 42 blocks last season. “Any point in your career, you have to be willing to implement your game, change you game, work on your game. You have to keep working and believe in yourself.”
Although the Wizards lost 124-121 in overtime Monday, the team may have give a glimpse into how it will play this upcoming season, especially beyond the arc.
The team shot 8-for-38, or 21 percent, from the 3-point line Monday.
Last season, Washington tied for third in the NBA in three-point percentage at 37.5 percent, but ranked near the bottom in attempts at fewer than 27 per contest.
Brooks has emphasized during the summer and in training camp the three-point shot will become part of the team’s repertoire. In addition, position-less basketball in today’s NBA ensures all five players on the court can not only dribble and pass, but also hit the long-range jumper.
Jason Smith, a 7-foot power forward/center who’s been in the league as long as Mahinmi, attempted 32 three-pointers last season and 226 in his career.
“Why not us?” Smith said about big guys shooting from deep. “I’ve always been a midrange jump shooter. [The three-point-line’s] only a couple feet back, but you really have to work on your shooting mechanics. It’s just something you have to work on in practice. Don’t get frustrated. It’s gong to be good nights, it’s going to be bad nights.”
Meanwhile, center Dwight Howard, who missed Monday’s game with a sore back, didn’t participate in practice Tuesday. He did conduct a light workout shooting jumpers on the left wing.
Brooks said Otto Porter Jr. also didn’t practice because of a sore left ankle suffered in Monday’s game, but may be able to practice Wednesday.
The team will play its second preseason game Friday in D.C. against the Miami Heat. Washington will host Miami when the regular season begins Oct. 18.