This is the latest in our series of player evaluations for each Wizard from the 2016-17 season. In our most recent installment, we reviewed Daniel Ocehfu.
Season in Review by Tony East
Sheldon Mac (formerly known as McClellan) was one of the Wizards “Third round picks” from last summer. The team needed some cheap contracts, and undrafted rookies were a great way for them to do that. Mac impressed in college but wasn’t selected in the draft, so the Wizards were able to sign him without using a pick last summer.
The team signed Mac to a two-year minimum contract with the second year non-guaranteed. On July 1st, $50,000 of that contract was guaranteed, and the rest becomes guaranteed on the league-wide guarantee date on January 10.
Mac was able to get on the floor in 30 games during his rookie season, and started three games when Beal missed time early in the season. He was effective in his minutes, scoring 11.3 points per 36 minutes and posted an even net rating, which is impressive for an undrafted rookie.
His lackluster abilities on defense will be discussed later, but he can make up for that on the offensive end. His midrange game shows promise. He shot 70 percent on shots from 10-16 feet last season, per Basketball-Reference, so if he can figure out how to extend that range out, he could be very useful on that end.
He shot 41 percent from 3 his senior year of college at Miami, and he was able to create enough space when he went inside the line to shoot 57 percent on twos that same season. If he could improve his shot selection, he could become quite an efficient player.
Mac has never been known for he defensive capabilities, but he showed flashes of defensive talent this season. He can be good on defense, but he needs to be focused on that end of the court.
In his college days, he was notorious for giving more effort on D when he was playing well on offense, but that’s not going to work in Washington. Even if he gets more effective, he’ll never be an offensive focal point behind Wall and Beal. If he can find another way to stay focused on that end, he could end up being a capable defender on the wing.
Mac showed his potential last season. He is the best chance the Wizards have of turing a young guard becoming a solid rotation player, and he could surely be a useful part of the team’s rotation next season if he puts in the work.
Behind the numbers by Kevin Broom
Mac played just 287 minutes in his rookie season, so his numbers are Small Sample Size Theater. What he showed in his limited opportunities was a) unimpressive, and b) similar to his unimpressive college production.
In my statistical draft analysis machine, Ye Olde Draft Analyzer (YODA for short), Mac scored a rock solid “don’t draft” grade despite outstanding shooting. Why? The rest of his game: paltry rebounding, anemic assists, meh defense. What shows up from his limited NBA playing time is much the same.
Overall, his Player Production Average was 51, which is slightly above replacement level. His offensive efficiency was a shade above average, mostly on the strength of two-point shooting. While his two-point shooting isn’t sustainable, he probably also won’t continue shooting 23 percent from three-point range.
Mac could carve out a role as an off-the-bench gunner -- if he can improve his shooting. His lack of versatility would suggest he needs to be an elite shooter to be a positive contributor because, given that he turns 25 in December, it’s improbable he’ll develop a better all-around game.
Looking for something more hopeful, I ran Mac through my statistical doppelganger machine. The top matches were not encouraging — Von Wafer, E’Twaun Moore, Acie Law and Milt Palacio. However, a little further down, I found the names of Byron Russell and Arron Afflalo, who each had productive NBA careers. There’s some potential, but Mac is going to need to work hard and smart to realize it.
Final Thoughts by Jake Whitacre
After watching Sheldon Mac’s performance in Summer League, I’m slightly more optimistic about his potential to get minutes this season, but much more pessimistic about his potential of sticking in the league for a long time.
His off-ball game looked better in Las Vegas. His three-point improved, albeit in a very small sample, and he was smarter about how and when he attacked the lane. Both of those skills are critical in order to be effective alongside John Wall, Tim Frazier, or Tomas Satoransky. So the good news is that if Bradley Beal or Jodie Meeks get hurt (which wouldn’t be surprising, given their injury histories) and Mac gets thrust into playing duties, he’s in a better spot now to be helpful when he’s on the floor than he was last season.
Still, the overall body of work didn’t leave a lot to be desired. He only had 17 rebounds and 7 assists in 114 minutes of Vegas action and didn’t show much growth on the defensive end. Granted, he was playing through some ankle issues, but again, it’s not like he’s ever been known to play well in those areas in the past.
Mac’s only real NBA skill at this point in his scoring ability, and even it is fairly unremarkable at this point. Unless he can take a big step forward as a scorer or refine the rest of his game, it’s hard to see him making an impact in the league.