Updated 1 year ago by Mike Maharrey
Former Bryan Station basketball star Shelvin Mack will get the opportunity to prove he can back up former UK star John Wall at the point guard position for the Washington Wizards this summer.
Mack primarily played the role of a shooter at Butler University, but the Wizards need a reliable backup for Wall at the point. The Lexington native struggled with the transition last year as a rookie. It didn't help that the NBA lockout washed out minicamps and summer league play last year, depriving Mack of the opportunity to learn the Wizards' system and adjust to the pro game before coaches threw him into the fray.
Wall says he tried to help his rookie backup adjust to the NBA, but admitted, he is still learning the game himself.
"It was tough, because basically, I'm the veteran guy to try to help Shelvin, and it would be better if we had a guy helping both of us out," Wall said.
With no lockout to disrupt offseason work this summer, Mack will finally get the opportunity to focus on developing his game without the day-to-day pressure the NBA grind puts on players. He participated in his first four-day Wizards' minicamp last week with two-a-day workouts and a scrimmage on Wednesday. Next up for the 6-foot-3 guard, summer league play out in Las Vegas.
"I basically threw him into the sharks last year," Washington coach Randy Wittman said in a Washington Post interview. "He struggled at times, and I just want to see what his growth is now."
Reviews of Mack's rookie season came back mixed. He played about 12 minutes per game, averaging 3.6 points, 2.0 assists and 0.8 turnovers. He shot 40 percent from the field, and hit just 29 percent from behind the arc. Mack played one of his best games late in the season, scoring 10 points against the New Jersey Nets on April 6. He dished out a season high eight assists and committed just one turnover in 19 minutes of work.
Mack admitted that while he worked to adjust to playing point, his scoring suffered. He says he hopes to turn that around during summer league play.
"I look at myself as a shooter, so I want to make sure I can back that up when you look at the field goal percentages."
Mack will have some competition to push him during the summer. Wizards' coaches invited nine non-roster players to the minicamp, including Earl Calloway. Coaches say the former Indiana Hoosier will get some playing time at the point during summer league play.
"Shelvin's playing with a lot more confidence," Wittman said. "Now we'll see. He's got to take what we've done in here and transform that on to the floor, leading us at the point spot when he's out there at the point, and Shelvin's going to be another guy who plays off the ball some in this setting, too."
The Wizard summer league squad will play five games in six day in Las Vegas before taking a break until training camp opens in September.