The Atlanta Hawks are a team that is going to make the NBA Playoffs this season. However, they are also a team that’s looking to build for their future. They are not a legitimate contender for a title this season and they plan to part ways with Josh Smith this off-season, a player who has long been the face of their franchise.
When Smith departs, the Hawks will essentially be handing the keys of their team to Al Horford and Jeff Teague. The front office will then go from there with building a team around those two extremely talented young players. One of the places that they should look in that regard is Shelvin Mack.
Mack was signed to the Hawks late in the season to a few 10-day contracts and then for the rest of the year. This was after playing with the Washington Wizards and the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the season. In all three of these places he hasn’t received much of an opportunity. In the 23 total games that he’s played in this year he has averaged just 11.7 minutes per game.
However, when Devin Harris, the Hawks’ backup point guard to Teague, missed three games earlier this week, it was Mack that replaced him. Mack actually played so well that he earned himself some decent playing time on Saturday when Harris returned.
Over that four-game span Mack averaged 20.2 minutes per game. In those reserve minutes he was able to averaged 8.3 points, 4.5 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game on 48.1 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent three point shooting. More than just his statistics, Mack also comes into games and provides a sort of adrenaline rush for the Hawks, energizing the team as a whole with his play.
The interesting situation that the Hawks are now faced with is if they want to continue with the 30-year-old Harris in the future or if they should roll the dice with the upside of the 22-year-old Mack. Harris is a free agent after this season and will undoubtedly be more expensive than Mack to keep around. Given the fact that Mack has more potential for growth if given the opportunity and the fact that he’s cheaper to keep around, the smart move seems to be to keep Mack in lieu of Harris for their future.