Wizards wrap up important minicamp for Shelvin Mack


Shelvin Mack says he hopes to improve his shooting. (Katherine Frey/THE WASHINGTON POST)
July 12, 2012

Last season the Washington Wizards asked Shelvin Mack to modify his natural scoring tendencies and pay more attention to distributing because of the void at backup point guard behind John Wall.

The transformation didn’t necessarily suit the 6-foot-3 rookie, but after three productive college seasons at Butler, Mack had grown comfortable sacrificing personal glory for the benefit of the team.

So he accepted the assignment despite its perils. And although there’s plenty to learn still, Mack is at least that much farther ahead in his evolution after his first professional minicamp following last year’s NBA lockout.

The Wizards completed their four-day minicamp on Thursday. Minicamp included two-a-days Monday through Wednesday and a scrimmage on Wednesday night. The team held its final practice on Thursday afternoon before departing for Las Vegas to participate in the NBA summer league.

“I basically threw him into the sharks last year,” Coach Randy Wittman said of Mack. “He struggled at times, and I just want to see what his growth is now.”

Minicamp was particularly significant for Mack, considering the Wizards may elect to explore other options at reserve point guard if his development is not to their satisfaction. Mack figures to get many more opportunities to convince the club’s decision makers that he’s the right man for the job when summer league competition begins on Friday.

But Wittman indicated that Earl Calloway will also play point guard in summer league. Calloway, who played college basketball at Indiana, was among the nine non-roster invitees at minicamp.

Those players — in addition to No. 3 overall pick Bradley Beal, second-round pick Tomas Satoransky and 2011 selections Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Mack — make up the Wizards’ summer league roster.

The team is scheduled to play five games in six days in Las Vegas and then won’t reconvene until training camp in September.

“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.”

Mack got a bump in playing time over the last few games of the regular season, and the results were mixed. He had, for instance, seven assists, one off his season high, in the final game but also committed a season-high six turnovers.

In the five games before that, Mack had 20 assists with just four turnovers. For the season, Mack averaged 3.6 points, 2.0 assists and 0.8 turnovers while playing 12 minutes a game. In 64 games he shot 40 percent, including just 29 percent from three-point range, both figures Mack conceded were sub-standard.

“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 said of what he wants to accomplish in Las Vegas.

“Just come out there, just be aggressive and just try to get to the free throw line. Just be consistent, not go out there and have a good game and a bad game.”

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering many local and national beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He joined The Washington Post sports department in 1990 as a member of the high school staff and worked as a copy editor and assignment editor for almost 19 years.
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