This will be the routine until Wall is able to return from the stress injury in his left knee that will keep him sidelined for eight weeks.
Meantime, Coach Randy Wittman faces the daunting task of selecting a point guard who will be expected to keep the offense from sputtering in Wall’s absence, since no one on the roster can replace or replicate the talents of the former No. 1 overall pick.
Team President Ernie Grunfeld signed eight-year veteran backup Jannero Pargo on Monday to aid in the efforts to fill in for the only Wizard to start all 66 games last season. But while Pargo, A.J. Price and Shelvin Mack — the three point guards battling for the interim starting nod — combine for 12 years of experience, they also have just 21 career starts between them.
“I told all three of them when they came in here, I’m not looking for anything different than why we brought them in here,” Wittman said. “They are who they are and they don’t need to be, now with John out, to try to come in and be somebody different. That only compounds the situation and it doesn’t put them in the best light.”
Mack served as Wall’s primary backup as a rookie last season. But he had the double disadvantage of starting his career during a lockout-shortened campaign and learning a new position after serving as a primary scorer on a Butler team that made back-to-back trips to the NCAA championship game. He averaged 3.6 points and two assists in about 12 minutes and posted a better assist-to-turnover ratio than Wall, but never appeared secure running the team and getting players into the proper sets.
After Mack had a mediocre showing against some borderline NBA players during summer league in Las Vegas, the Wizards quickly signed Price to provide the team with another option behind Wall. Though disappointed with his performance this summer, Mack — who often writes “Think Positive” on his Twitter account — took in stride his offseason misstep when he had the opportunity to secure a spot.
“The summer league, it didn’t go kind of the way that I expected. But it’s a learning experience,” said Mack, the 34th pick of the 2011 draft. “I had more opportunity to run the point so I think it helped me out in the long run.”
Wittman said that he expects his point guards to be an extension of him on the floor, adding that Mack is “the only guy I had any ties with” coming into camp. The 6-foot-3 Mack is also is the least experienced of the trio. The position is up for grabs, with Wittman expected to give all three challengers the opportunity to lead the starting five. Wall said he expects his replacements to “hold it down” and that it is “going to be exciting for me to see those guys battle it out.”