Many of you may have heard the name Shelvin Mack.
You may be able to recall the last team he played for, but few Grizzlies fans are aware of the value that Mack brings to this roster. For those that are unfamiliar, Mack comes to Memphis on a one year, $2 million deal after a mediocre season in Orlando. If you remember, Orlando was as bad as Memphis last year, so there isn’t much positive to report from anyone on that team.
Mack played in 69 games last season and passed his way into just under four assist on an average of 20 minutes per game. For the most part, he has been a back-up in his NBA career; he played significant minutes for Utah in 2015, but otherwise has been around 20 minutes or less a game. The beauty of Shelvin Mack is that he owns this role and knows the pressure it can take off a team to have a quality back up waiting on the bench.
Even more so, Mack has been sent around the league and will grow into a veteran presence for the Grizzlies. Memphis will be the sixth team Mack has played for in the NBA, filling bench roles in his eight year career. His role on the Grizzlies will be more of the same, hoping to fill a void the Grizzlies have maintained for far too long. There is no team in the league more excited to welcome a quality bench player than that of the Memphis Grizzlies.
2017-18 Season in Review
As previously mentioned, Mack spent last season in Orlando, a franchise also struggling in terms of finding talent and an identity. He recorded a season high of 19 points and remained healthy for most of the season. He shot a relatively respectable 35% from three point land on about two attempts a game, which would be about middle of the pack for the Grizzlies. His strengths coming into this season are his assists and turnover numbers.
Mack took care of the ball last year, behind only Magic point guard Elfrid Payton in assists per game and third on the team in total assists. He was the back-up to a still-developing point guard in Payton, but was able to hold his own when he was on the court.
The Grizzlies found a high value guy in Mack and will utilize him predominantly in a reserve point guard role. Look for Mack to have a similar stat line as last year, hopefully adding more to his totals with better players around him.
At the time, the Mack signing was puzzling. The Grizzlies drafted a point guard in Jevon Carter, Kobi Simmons was still slightly in the picture, and Andrew Harrison was signed to the roster. That’s way too many point guards and none of those three are ready to contribute right now. Harrison has held his own a few times in the last two seasons but is far from reliable, and the Mack signing proved that the front office isn’t confident Carter is ready for significant back up minutes just yet.
New Grizzlies players introduced today. 1 Kyle Anderson, 17 Garrett Temple, 6 Shelvin Mack, 18 Omri Casspi pic.twitter.com/ALC0RHRXSI— Lawson (@SeaGrizz) September 18, 2018
Mack’s importance and value lies in the fact that he can step into the back up point guard role right now. He doesn’t have to develop, he has proven his worth and capability, and he can mesh with the lineups immediately. His signing also allows Carter to develop further in the G-League if necessary and moves Harrison to the two-guard spot. Mack’s role could be huge in the development of these young guys, most importantly early in the season. He takes off a ton of pressure on the younger players and gives the Grizzlies a bridge into the future.
Best Case Scenario
If Mack provides seven points and four assists again this year, I see that as best case scenario. It is realistic and so valuable if he does. He is capable of being a double digit scorer, but would need the minutes to do so and I don’t see the Grizzlies needing his talents more than 20 minutes a game. If he remains a high assist guy, that means the team is taking care of the ball and making shots, as fans we can’t ask for much more.
The one added benefit that hasn’t been a typical Mack calling card is on the defensive end. If Mack can provide a defensive spark consistently, the second string guys could finally give a consistent boost off the bench.
Worst Case Scenario
I’m already preparing myself for another injury-ridden season. I’m used to the fact that the Grizzlies are seemingly the most injured team in the league, and I have no doubt the case will remain the same. Worst case scenario is if Mack goes down early with a severe injury. Not only is this detrimental for his career and wipes away the value of his contract this year, but also leaves the gaping hole of the back up point guard role open again.
Carter would likely step in unprepared and inconsistent. Even worse, Harrison would be thrown back in the role for an extended time and I don’t have to say much more about that. We need Mack healthy, and if he is, his role on this team could be a positive ripple effect for the rest of the roster. I don’t worry about his stats declining or his transition to a new team, health is always the main concern in Memphis.
I expect Mack to be the same as he has been in his NBA tenure. He has consistently been a bench contributor when given the opportunity. The Grizzlies signed him to play a specific role, a role that he has worked on since he signed his rookie contract. My expectations aren’t high for either end of the floor specifically, but I expect his leadership in the second unit to be strong. He is the type of player that has made the most of his opportunity, and I look forward to seeing him do the same in Memphis.
Less tangibly, I expect him to be a key contributor in the development of Jevon Carter. I think they play similar styles of point guard, though Carter is known more for his defensive presence. Neither will be high volume scorers, but can be go-to assists men with floor awareness. I believe Mack can leave a lasting impression on the Grizz rookie.