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Wizards summer school: Shelvin Mack


Wizards summer school: Shelvin Mack

Acrossthe board, the Wizards need to work on their shooting and that includes guard Shelvin Mack who struggled to find his stroke in his rookie season.Mackmade just40 percent of his field goal attempts and 28 percent of his three-point shots, averaging only 3.6 points in 12 minutes off the bench in his rookie year.

Mackhelped Butler reach back-to-back national title games in college withhis ability to shoot the ball and hit clutch shots, but for the most part we didn't see that carry over to his first professional season in Washington.

Although he struggled with his shot, Mackshowed some promise that he could play at the NBAlevel.Mackhad his best game, a 10-point, 8-assist outing in just 19 minutesin a loss at New Jersey in early April. He followed that up with 11points and 3 assists in a win over Charlotte.In early February,Mackwent for 12 and 4 in a lossat Orlando but he simply wasn'tconsistentenough in his play throughout the entire season.

Mack did show he can handle the ball andrarelyturned it over, which is key for a point guard at any level.

So what can coach Randy Wittman do to get Mack to work on his game?

Obviously, Mack must get up hundreds of shots a day this summer to come back as a real threat from the outside next season. From the pull-up jumper to the three-ball, Mack must regain that form that made him a top-notch college scorer.

Mack also must work on breaking down defenders off the dribble and finishing shots over taller players around the rim. Listed generously at 6'-3," nothing is going to come easy for Mack when it comes to scoring the ball.

Mack has a good head on his shoulders, so he will put in the work to get better with his offensive repertoire. Mack will also participate in the Las Vegas Summer League and get valuable time running an offense with extensive minutes.

Consistency and gaining confidence will be a huge factor forMacklooking ahead to nextseason. If he can find both, Mack could be a nice piece off the bench for the Wizards.

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A revitalized DeMarcus Cousins poses the most unique challenge of Thomas Bryant’s young career

A revitalized DeMarcus Cousins poses the most unique challenge of Thomas Bryant’s young career

The Golden State Warriors, it's probably safe to say, present a unique challenge defensively. They have two MVPs and five All-NBA selections. If you ask Scott Brooks, they have six future Hall of Famers, including Andre Iguodala off the bench.

With DeMarcus Cousins now in the fold, the Warriors can roll out a five-man lineup of guys who can put the ball on the floor and shoot from the outside. Long range shooting for them, of course, has a different meaning than other teams. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are deadly from 30 feet, and sometimes beyond. 

As a team, the Warriors shoot 39 percent from the perimeter on 33.5 attempts per game. Stopping them is a gargantuan task, but the Wizards will give it a shot on Thursday night with an 8 p.m. tipoff set for national TV on TNT.

The Warriors' ability to spread the floor and move the ball from shooter to shooter with unrivaled range is difficult to keep up with, not only for the wing defenders chasing them around. It will also present a unique challenge for Wizards center Thomas Bryant, who at 21 years old and in his second season will be new to it all.

Bryant has only played the Warriors once in his career. That was earlier this season, with the Wizards on Oct. 24. He logged nine minutes, but those were late in a 22-point blowout loss. The game occurred about a month before he was promoted to the starting lineup.

It may seem counterintuitive that Bryant, a big man, will be one to watch as the Wizards battle a team tailored for the perimeter. But he will have plenty of responsibility on the backline of Washington's defense. 

"He has to be a quarterback," Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. "He has to talk. Their bigs, they hand the ball off a lot and we'll be switching tomorrow. He has to make sure he's able to guard Steph, Klay, K.D. at times. He's going to be switched out to guys. Making it difficult for them with his length and playing with energy, that's what we need."

Bryant, indeed, could very easily find himself on an island at the three-point line, tasked momentarily to stay in front of Curry, for instance. The Warriors will do their best to find mismatches, and they are good at getting them.

Bryant has quick feet and long arms that suggest he can guard in space, but doesn't do a ton of perimeter duty for the Wizards. He is 85th among centers in contested threes per 36 minutes. Usually, he stays home around the rim.

However, he'll almost certainly have to venture out against Golden State, even if he is trailing Cousins. Last season, when he was healthy, Cousins averaged 6.1 three-point attempts per game. This season, through two games back from Achilles surgery, he has taken 40 percent of his shots beyond 16 feet.

"They put so much pressure on you defensively that all five guys need to be on-point," Brooks said. "A lot of times in transition, Thomas is going to be guarding smaller guys because they're coming at you all over the floor. You have to be able to manage that and guard that."

Bryant will get his chance against the Warriors, but the leash could end up being short. Brooks has the option to go small with Jeff Green at center. He could favor a lineup with Green in the middle alongside Trevor Ariza and Otto Porter Jr. at forward and Beal and Tomas Satoransky at guard. That would maximize their ability to switch.

Bryant, though, will start. Whether he stays on the floor could depend on how he fares defending outside shots, which he hasn't done a whole of this season.


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DeMatha alum and Pacers star Victor Oladipo stretchered off with scary leg injury

USA Today Sports

DeMatha alum and Pacers star Victor Oladipo stretchered off with scary leg injury

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers lost All-Star guard Victor Oladipo with an apparent right leg injury in the second quarter of Wednesday night's game against Toronto.

Trainers quickly put a towel over the leg and players from both teams surrounded Oladipo as he lay on the floor. Fans gave him a standing ovation as he was carted off the floor on a stretcher.

The injury occurred when Oladipo fell awkwardly while trying to defend an outlet pass to Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, who landed on top of Oladipo with 4:05 to go.

Oladipo made his first All-Star Game last season after being acquired in the trade for Paul George. He is the Pacers' top scorer this season at 19.2 points per game.