It’s not that Shelvin Mack was unfamiliar to me heading into this season’s NCAA tournament. I just didn’t realize how good he is. Mack’s toughness, decision-making and defense have been extremely impressive in Butler’s run to a second straight national title game, particularly his performance against VCU’s Joey Rodriguez, helping hold him to 1-for-8 shooting and just three points. Mack is only a junior and could decide to stay in school, but if he enters the draft, he’s threatening to enter that late first round area of the draft.
Measurables: 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, junior guard from Butler
Key stats: 16.1 points, 3.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 41 percent from the field and 35 percent from three
Projected: Late first/early second round
How would he help the Pistons?
Mack’s best attributes — strength, defense and 3-point shooting — all happen to be weaknesses among the team’s incumbents at point guard. Rodney Stuckey has the physical strength and shows flashes on defense, but his behavior this season hasn’t done much to inspire confidence. Will Bynum is fine as an energetic scorer/playmaker off the bench, but he’s a defensive liability who hasn’t proven he can run a halfcourt offense. Mack might not be a future star at the point guard spot, but the Pistons are still searching at the position, and Mack is one of a handful of steady college players who might be worth a look when they pick in the second round.
How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?
There’s no questioning Butler’s tourney success. The team has proven to be among the best in the country for two straight seasons. But the reality is there are questions about any smaller conference player when it comes to projecting NBA ability. Mack also plays in a very methodical offense at Butler. That’s not such a bad thing from Detroit’s perspective since they are a halfcourt team as well, but there’s an adjustment going from using all of a 35 second shot clock to a 24 second clock. Mack’s FG percentage isn’t great — he shoots in the low forties for his career — and he’s not as explosive as some of the other guards who could be late first/early second round picks. While he can play the point, he’s also played off the ball quite a bit at Butler, so there’s no guarantee he could transition to a full time PG in the NBA.
What are others saying?
Mack came to Butler primarily getting his offense in transition and as a spot-up shooter during his freshman season. That shot distribution has changed drastically during the past two years as he’s shouldered a heavier burden creating in the half court offense. Mack is now getting less of his offense on spot-up and transition opportunities, instead being asked to create off the pick and roll and in isolation situations. In fact, according to Synergy Sports Technology, over 29% of his half court offense is now coming from pick and roll situations, up from 18.7% during his sophomore campaign and 13.3% as a freshman.
The Good: Mack is a big-time shooter with deep range on his jump shot. He’s tough, physical and built like a tank. Despite his size, he’s deceptively quick and a good floor leader.
The Bad: He’s struggled a bit with his jump shot this season. Scouts see him as a tweener. Does he have the requisite vision to be a point guard in the pros? If not, he’s undersized.
The Upside: Mack helped his stock quite a bit last season playing alongside Gordon Hayward. He’s struggled to make big improvements over his sophomore season, however. Another big tournament from Mack and Butler could put him back on the first-round bubble.
Very composed. Always on balance, never seems to rush things. Good pace to his game. Plays smart, values the basketball … Aggressive scorer with a crafty offensive game. Really knows how to create shots and has a strong one on one game. Good shot selection … Can knock opponents off balance and uses hesitation moves extremely well to create shots with opponents falling off balance and out of his way … Strong jump shooter and mid-range game with a strong ability to create shots for himself off the dribble … Beautiful shooting motion with excellent lift, a smooth, quick release and excellent overall form … Has the physique of an NBA linebacker with huge shoulders and a barrel chest and uses his excellent body strength to his advantage