The Mack: Waiting to Return, Hoping It’s the NBA (Ex-Wizards at Summer League)
Mack was brought back to the Wizards from the D-League in late-December when Shaun Livingston’s stint didn’t work out (and when A.J. Price fractured his hand), but failed to impress. Randy Wittman found more comfort and consistency in fellow D-Leaguer Garrett Temple. Mack was subsequently signed by the Philadelphia 76ers for a pair of 10-day contracts and then another pair by the Atlanta Hawks, who ultimately signed him for the rest of the season. In addition to seven games with the Wizards last season, he saw four games with the Sixers, and 20 regular season games to go with four playoff appearances for the Hawks. Mack played 23 total games with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League last season.
Mack has a non-guaranteed contract but his rights are still held by the Hawks, so he was on their roster in Las Vegas and appeared in five games. On a Monday night after Atlanta’s third game, against the San Antonio Spurs, I caught up with Shelvin for a quick chat about how his career has been going, among other things.
On what he needs to do in terms of his development and staying in the NBA:
“Just continue to work hard everyday, that’s the biggest thing… maintaining. And just continue to learn the game, learning from the opposition, just watch some basketball, talking with some guys, and just continue to grow… you know, that aspect of the game and being a floor general.”
On progressing at learning the point guard (per Sam Cassell’s assessment in the 2012 summer league that Mack was just learning the position since that wasn’t his true role at Butler):
“I feel that I did a great job. I was able to play on a playoff team this year, I went to the D-League, got a lot of reps in, and I feel like I was one of the best players there. I averaged eight assists and two turnovers. I think I’ve progressed a lot, just continue to work hard. I just had to go a different route.”
[Note: per Basketball-Reference.com, Mack averaged 7.7 assists and 3.8 turnovers per game over 23 contests with the Maine Red Claws in 2012-13. He was named a D-League Performer of the Week last December.]
On if he sees his role as also being a combo guard (note: this was after Mack had played alongside Dennis Schroeder for several minutes in Atlanta’s summer league contest against the Spurs; Schroeder, a young point guard prospect, was chosen 17th overall by the Hawks in 2013):
“Yea, a little bit. I feel like coaches want to have the best players on the floor, sometimes you have to do that. Same case with the Miami Heat, they don’t always have a point guard on the floor, sometimes you have to have the best players out there on the court.”
On Dennis Schroeder’s game:
“He’s good. He’s always going to play hard. He’s going to pick up full court and make you work for everything. He wants to make everyone play better, he’s not a selfish player.”
On if he was surprised when his coach at Butler, Brad Stevens, took the head coaching job with the Boston Celtics:
“Yea, I was really surprised. Earlier in the week we were talking about kids that he’d been recruiting from Kentucky, so you know it kind of caught me by surprise.”
On how he thinks Stevens will adapt to the NBA:
“I think he’ll do well. He’s a player’s coach. He understands that certain things he’s going to have to do is tough. He understands the importance of getting rest with your legs. He understands that.”
On how he sees Jan Vesely’s game progression (Shelvin and Jan formed a bound during their time together in Washington):
“He’s put in a lot of work this offseason. I know for a fact that he wasn’t happy with the situation last year, not being able to play, not even a lot of minutes. So he went in the gym and worked this offseason to continue to build confidence.”
On the progression of Vesely with language and culture in the U.S.?
“Yea, you know it was kind of difficult. It would be difficult, say, if one of us went overseas to a different coach, so just trying to adapt to that. No one else on our team speaks Czech, so it’s kind of tough for him to adapt to coaching and understand that. Also, it’s two different styles of play, so he was trying to learn that.”
On how confident Mack feels about his situation with the Hawks and his role going into next season:
“Yea, I’m feeling really good. Watching the situation right now, we have three point guards with me, Dennis [Schroeder] and Jeff [Teague]. Just continue to work hard and all I can do is control the things that I can control. Just come in working hard every day, play hard, and make the right decisions.”
Over his five games with the Hawks in the 2013 Vegas Summer League, Mack averaged 17.4 minutes, 7.6 points, 2.6 assists, 1.4 turnovers, 2.4 rebounds, 41.7 percent from the field (83.3 FT%), and 3-for-7 total from the 3-point line. In five games with the Wizards in the 2012 Summer League, Mack averaged 24.6 minutes, 11.0 points, 2.4 assists, 3.4 turnovers, 2.6 rebounds, 40.4 percent shooting (80 FT%), and went 5-for-17 from long distance. Improvement from last year to this past summer is evident in the turnover rate alone.
Recent reports indicate that Olimpia Milano, a team in the top Italian league, will be going after Mack. It remains to be seen which direction he will go. If Mack hangs around stateside for Hawks training camp, he could get cut by Atlanta, be out of a well-paying job in Italy, and again find himself in the D-League. If Mack heads overseas now, he could make more money than he’s ever made, but could be pigeonholed into being another expatriate American basketball player.
ALSO READ: The evaluation of Shelvin Mack’s brief time with the Wizards in 2012-13 by TAI’s Adam Rubin.