By Josh Cohen
July 9, 2017
ORLANDO — Shelvin Mack is a very physical defender. He uses his strength to his advantage. He’s aggressive, durable and fearless. He does an excellent job knocking opponents off balance and limiting their space.
Mack is also undaunted by challenges. He did a superb job this past season guarding some of the NBA’s most electrifying scorers. Here’s a look at the field goal percentages and the average shot attempt distance from some of the game’s stars when Mack was defending:
Russell Westbrook – 25 percent, 19.9 feet
James Harden – 50 percent, 18.4 feet
Stephen Curry – 33.3 percent, 19.8 feet
John Wall – 25 percent, 20 feet
Damian Lillard – 41.7 percent, 22.7 feet
What this data tells us is that opponents have a really hard time evading Mack off the dribble. He’s pestering, persistent and tends to close off driving lanes. Opponents often settle for outside jumpers when Mack is the one-on-one defender.
Mack is extremely effective as a post-up defender. In fact, opponents last season shot just 16.7 percent from the field against Mack when they tried posting him up. The average shot distance on these attempts was 9.8 feet, which suggests they weren’t able to really back Mack down.
Something else very impressive about Mack is his ability to detect incoming screens and fight through them. Mack’s endurance and keenness when chasing shooters around screens is a major asset for any team.
While he’s not taken a ton of charges in his career, Mack is certainly not afraid to sacrifice his body. With an NFL linebacker-type frame, the 6’3, 203-pounder can handle getting caught up in the middle of a congested lane.
It’s important to recognize that Mack has played on some of the best defensive teams in each of the past few seasons. With the Hawks a couple years back, Mack was one of the team’s most reliable perimeter defenders and that squad ranked in the top 10 in nearly every defensive category. Similarly, Mack helped reinforce Utah’s defensive toughness and tenacity the past two seasons.
Here’s a closer look at some of Mack’s defensive work from last season.
DENYING KYRIE IRVING’S BASELINE DRIVE & CONTESTING FADEAWAY
FORCING RUSSELL WESTBROOK INTO TOUGH CONTESTED JUMPER
KNOCKING MIKE CONLEY OFF BALANCE & CHALLENGING RUNNER
READING SERGE IBAKA SCREEN & CLOSING OUT ON D.J. AUGUSTIN
TAKING CHARGE ON GERALD HENDERSON