Ian Mahinmi participated in the Washington Wizards‘ Saturday morning shoot-around session, his first on-court activity alongside teammates in more than a month.
Mahinmi, the 6-foot-11 center who underwent surgery to repair a partially torn medial meniscus on Oct. 14, has not appeared in a regular season game. After the latest step in his recovery, in which he fully participated in the light practice while wearing a compression sleeve over his left knee, he expects to return to the court by the end of November.
“Obviously it’s not a live full-blown practice but it’s my first time being on the court with everybody. I went through every drill, no restriction,” Mahinmi said after the session. “That’s the goal, to come back before the end of the month, and everything depends on how my knee reacts going into a full-blown practice.”
Mahinmi has not yet played five-on-five, or even competed in a one-on-one drill against a teammate, but that should change once he’s cleared for practice. The Wizards (3-8) will host the Miami Heat on Saturday night and the team has not yet announced if there will be practice the following day. However, Mahinmi said his participation in practice — whether it’s Sunday or Monday — will depend on how his knee reacts from the latest workload.
The knee “feels good, so that was very encouraging,” Mahinmi said. “Tonight I have another session and the big test is when I wake up in the morning tomorrow.”
The sight of Mahinmi even participating through a shoot-around should be reason for the Wizards to rejoice.
Though Mahinmi recently turned 30, upon his return he should anchor the second unit’s defense. In 11 games, Washington’s mismatched bench has the worst defensive rating in the NBA (111.8). Last season, Mahinmi, who signed with the Wizards largely due to his defensive presence as a rim protector, held opponents to 4.4 percentage points less than their season averages on shots from six feet and closer.