Originally written on Crossover Chronicles  |  Last updated 1/12/12

Losing center Tyson Chandler was considered a huge blow to the Dallas Mavericks' road to defending their NBA throne. Chandler anchored the Mavs' defense with intimidation around the rim, rebounding, blocked shots and the occasional offensive output.

And as much as the loss of Chandler is having its ripple effects for Dallas so far this season, Mavs center Ian Mahinmi feels he is more than capable to man the paint and relishes the opportunity.

"Obviously for me, it opened up a big opportunity. Right now I am playing the backup to Brendan (Haywood) and there's a lot of minutes available. For me I just take that as a challenge, as an opportunity and I want to grab it," said Mahinmi prior to last week's San Antonio Spurs-Dallas Mavericks matchup.

And grab the opportunity he has.

Off the bench for Dallas, Ian has averaged a respectable 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and shooting a whopping 70% from the field in 20.1 minutes. A far cry from averaging 3.1 points, 2.1 rebounds last season with Dallas. Not only that, Mahinmi has notched two double digit scoring outbursts for Dallas against New Orleans and Detroit (13 and 10 respectively) which resulted in a Mavs' win.

Credit Mahinmi's work ethic for making more strides in his NBA development.

"I been working hard and I'm here."

But as Mahinmi continues to provide not only the stats, but also energy and hustle, he knows replacing Chandler is difficult to do.

"I know it's going to be hard to replace Tyson, but I'm going to be me and do what I do and help the team as much as I can."

And all Ian needed was time on the court to show what he can do.

"Now I really got the chance to use (court moves) in the game because of the minutes and all of that. This summer I was spending all the time working on the same stuff I been working on," said Mahinmi. "Obviously it's still early but I'll keep working."

Contributions will be needed from Mahinmi in Dallas' march to defend their title. And if the Mavs raise another banner, many might say, "Chandler who?" thanks in part to Ian taking full advantage of the opportunity given him this season.

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