LAS VEGAS -- The backup point guard position has been a big topic in rumors involving the Washington Wizards this summer, with the team being linked to guys like John Lucas III and several others. That's why it's critical for the incumbent, Shelvin Mack, to play well in the 2012 NBA Summer League.
So far, though, it's been a struggle for the second-year guard. He's had his moments, but when the Wizards have struggled, it's been because Mack and fellow youngster Tomas Satoransky were bothered by tough, defensive pressure.
It was especially bad early in the Wizards' loss to the NBA D-League Select Team on Sunday. Mack began the game with several careless turnovers, throwing passes to initiate the offense so slowly that anyone could have deflected them. Satoransky at least took care of the ball, but he too was forced to spend too much time bringing the ball up without getting the Wizards into their sets fast enough. Their struggles helped contribute to a seven-point loss that was really much worse than the score indicated.
"Me being a former point guard in the league, that's what it is," Sam Cassell said after the game. "You're going to get pressured. If you can't handle the pressure, they're going to pressure you every time. The NBA is like a soap opera. Everybody watches. Everybody watches. Everybody says things about it."
Cassell has given Mack the benefit of the doubt, saying that he's still learning the position after playing off the ball at Butler.
"It's like taking a fastball pitcher and making him throw a knuckleball. He can do it, but it's going to be difficult," Cassell said. "He's getting a lot of on-the-job experience, and he'll be fine."
But the Wizards may not have the patience to let Mack figure it out. They played European veteran Earl Calloway big minutes in the loss because he was doing as good a job at anyone at getting the team into their sets. Perhaps they've cast their net even wider than I imagined.
"We're looking for somebody who can run a ball-club," Cassell admitted. "We've got John Wall, but after John Wall, we need to figure it out. That's what we're trying to do."
How they figure it out remains to be seen.