After a rookie year with essentially no offseason to get adjusted to the professional game, Shelvin Mack is entering his second season with the Washington Wizards. He played in 64 of the 66 games last season, but now he is getting feedback from his coaches that was absent during 2011’s NBA lockout.
“I’ve been able to have a chance to work with the coaches in the summer,” said Mack, who averaged 3.6 points and 2.0 assists in 12.2 minutes. “I wasn’t able to do it last year, so it’s been great. I understand what they want from me so it’s making the transition easier for me.”
Mack rose to prominence after playing in the national championship game twice in his final two years at Butler. The Wizards took him with the 34th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
Knowing he’ll play alongside lottery picks Bradley Beal and John Wall this season gives Mack motivation.
“Yeah, a little bit,” Mack said. “I also can brag that I went further [in the NCAA tournament] than both of them. Everyone has to have a chip on their shoulder when you get to the NBA.”
Coach Randy Wittman has noticed the improvement in Mack’s game.
The guard stayed after practice Thursday to work with Beal in some pick-and-pop situations.
“We didn’t have any of this last year,” Wittman said. “Showing them things that they need to work on is another big part of [practicing as a team].
“Shelvin is playing with a lot of confidence. He’s now got to take what we’ve done in here and transform that onto the floor.”
Forward Chris Singleton, who the Wizards picked 16 spots ahead of Mack in last year’s draft, agrees that a summer of practice and games will help him and Mack.
“Last year, me and Shelvin feel like we just got thrown into it and had to pick up things fast,” Singleton said. “I think this year is just controlling and putting our base in is going to go well.”
With the addition of Beal this year, Mack may even see a shift to a wing position at times if Wall is on the court as well, according to Wittman. The coach is confident Mack could thrive in that role.
“Shelvin is going to be another guy that’s going to be playing off the ball some in this setting,” Wittman said. “He has the ability to play off [the ball].”
The team will head to Las Vegas on Friday to begin its summer-league schedule. Mack, along with the other 13 players who participated in minicamp this past week, will make the trip. Afterward, the Kentucky native will take time to rest before the season starts.
“I’ll take a short vacation and try to get home back to Kentucky to visit my mom and my sisters,” Mack said. “Then get right back at it - get ready for next season. Hopefully, I’ll have a better season.