The Hawks needed Shelvin Mack

Chris Barnewall —  August 19, 2014

There’s a common debate among bloggers, fans, media, and even in some front office circles. When should a young player be given more playing time? Many out there feel that a young player, once they show any kind of promise, should be given a lot of minutes; let them work out the kinks in a trial by fire setting. Only then will we know their worth. Others want them to earn every single minute they play. If they want to play then they have to beat out that guy in front of them no matter the skill level. Obviously both of these feel like extremes. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.

During the 2013 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks selected Dennis Schröder. This pick excited Hawks fans. Those not happy with Jeff Teague’s play, so far in his career, claimed Schröder could be the point guard of the future in three years. After a strong summer league, this only got fans even more excited. To make things even better, Schröder had a strong beginning to the season. Unfortunately for him, that strong play didn’t continue.

As Schröder’s play faltered, another player rose. Journeyman Shelvin Mack began to outplay Schröder on a nightly basis. Mack never turned the ball over and was a consistent player, something the Hawks lacked. This left the team with a decision, do they go with trial by fire for the young rookie, or the consistent veteran where they had an idea of what they would be getting, production wise?

Because the team was locked into a playoff race, the decision was made to reduce Schröder’s minutes and give them to the more consistent Mack.

In hindsight, this was the right call. Schröder never showed too much improvement and Mack’s steady play off the bench was just what the bench unit needed. He rarely did anything too crazy, but he brought consistency in both playmaking and occasional scoring.

This, more than anything, is why the Hawks re-signed Mack. That steady play off the bench they can always expect. There aren’t many surprises with Mack; that’s a good and a bad thing. While Schröder is more likely to turn the ball over, brick some shots, and be a negative, his ceiling is infinitely higher than Mack. Mack is a player that Schröder can compete with, and at the same time, emulate. He can learn from Mack and, at the same time, improve his game. Eventually the minutes we all expected Schröder to have, will be given to the young guard. And when that time comes, Mack looks to be an asset on a cheap contract that can be traded to a team that needs bench help.

But until then, the Hawks need the steady veteran guard that they know won’t fail them and that is Shelvin Mack.

Chris Barnewall

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Shuttles are cool. College student at UCF. Twitter is @ChrisBarnewall where I talk about video games too much.

5 responses to The Hawks needed Shelvin Mack

  1. I agreed with this sentiment for most of the season. But once the team fell apart in February and March losing 14 of 15 games, it became more beneficial to groom the highest drafted player the team has had since Teague.

    No young NBA player has ever improved by NOT playing basketball. And when you go 5+ weeks where you only win one game, clearly the status quo isn’t working.

    Payne and Schroeder have to get some consistent PT this year. Leaning on the likes of Shelvin Mack and Pero Antic is not to our benefit long-term.

  2. You guys have any thoughts on the outstanding basketball Dennis Schroeder is playing right now?

    • His play with Germany is great and a good sign. But he has to keep it up through training camp and into the season for it to mean anything for the Hawks.

      • Agreed. But seeing Dennis be successful under every coach he plays for in a handful of different leagues (D-League, Summer League twice, German National Team) yet struggle mightily under Coach Bud makes me wonder if the system or approach we are taking with him might simply be ill fitting.

        Bud has to adjust how he develops Dennis so that we can see some of his very obvious talents translate to the big league club.

        I think bringing back Mack was a mistake. If anything, we should have pursued a veteran PG to guide both Teague and Dennis.

        Either Devin Harris or Jameer Nelson would have wonderful in the role of mentor.

  3. Chris, Bo, Buddy,

    Dennis Schroeder had a pretty productive summer, putting in time with both the German National Team and the Hawks Summer League Team as a key member.

    Any chance you guys might put together a piece evaluating his contributions on either of those teams and how that might translate in year 2 with Atlanta?