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Shelvin Mack is UAT -ing up the Utah Jazz!

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A contract year and the coach’s ear makes a player know no fear

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

When you look down the roster of this Utah Jazz squad, formed by a series of masterstrokes by Maestro Dennis Lindsey, you see a few name players. These are guys who have either the reputation or hunger to power a team to wins. Gordon Hayward is an undeniable star right now, even if only his peers know it. George Hill is having a career season and ready to QB another team to the NBA Playoffs. Rudy Gobert is having a tour-de-force season in the paint, making the claim - and backing it up, too - that perhaps, he is the best center in the game. Derrick Favors is the quiet soldier rounding back into shape. Rodney Hood is a dead-eye whose early season marksmanship kept the team above .500 back when there were numerous injuries. Seven time All-Star veteran Joe Johnson is finding his place on this team. NBA Champion dilettante Boris Diaw is here making news on and off the court with his creativity. Even Aussie journeyman Joe Ingles is making people #TakeNote of his sweet shooting and endless hustle.

One guy you didn’t anticipate talking about much this year was Shelvin Mack. But ye Gods, we have to talk about this guy.

Mack is a below average, non-replacement level player who is dominating the ball when he is in the game. In fact, he is the most ball-dominant player on the team right now. That’s a huge problem because he has played the fourth most minutes and taken the fourth most shots, and that should never be the case on a team trying to win games. A lot of that happened because of injuries. But the team is healthy now. There’s no need to keep up this Mack-Ops. This operation is over.

At least look at the stats.

Basketball-Reference.com, AllThatAmar

Here we see the team stacked up by ‘normal’ Quin Snyder favorability / rotation. Hill, Hood, Hayward, Favors, and Gobert start. And everything somewhat follows ‘an’ order beyond those five.

There’s a lot to look at: age, starting percentage, minutes and minutes per game; but the real fun starts with the RED, BLUE, and YELLOW parts. Red is Offensive rating (ORTG), Defensive rating (DRTG), and Net rating. These are out of 100 (well, not Net, but you get the picture here). If your ORTG is above 100 that’s better than breaking even. If your DRTG is below 100 that’s better than breaking even as well. If your ORTG is below 100 and your DRTG is above it then that’s the opposite from the desired effect.

There are only three players on this Jazz team that currently have an ORTG lower than 100: Derrick Favors, Shelvin Mack, and Boris Diaw.

On the other hand, there are 11 out of 15 guys with a DRTG higher than 100: George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Joe Ingles, Joe Johnson, Trey Lyles, Boris Diaw, Raul Neto, Dante Exum, and Alec Burks.

If you sort these players by Net Rating you get the following:

  1. Gobert +29
  2. Hill / Withey +24
  3. Bolomboy +22
  4. Ingles +14
  5. Hayward +11
  6. Neto +6
  7. Johnson -2
  8. Favors -3
  9. Lyles -4
  10. Hood / Burks -5
  11. Exum -9
  12. Mack -10
  13. Diaw -15

Gobert truly is a unicorn here, even if he doesn’t shoot threes. (So, maybe a cyclops? I don’t know how this goes.) Withey (12th most mins) and Bolomboy (15th most mins) don’t play much so you can’t really put much into their high scores here. Mack (4th) and Diaw (6th) play a lot though, and they are just the worst. I don’t just mean that figuratively, I mean numerically.

Now ORTG and DRTG aren’t the only things in the world that matter. And one of the things that really doesn’t matter much is Player Efficiency Rating (PER). PER, like ORTG/DRTG has a baseline value: 15.0. If you are above 15.0 you are better than average, if you are below it, you are below average. (Duh.) This Jazz team has five players above average, about three that are just barely below average, and then an abyss.

  1. Hill: 24.8
  2. Bolomboy: 23.0
  3. Hayward: 22.2
  4. Gobert: 21.6
  5. Withey: 17.4
  6. Burks: 14.4
  7. Favors: 14.1
  8. Ingles: 13.5
  9. Lyles: 13.3
  10. Neto: 13.1
  11. Hood: 12.4
  12. Johnson: 12.2
  13. Mack: 10.7
  14. Exum: 7.7
  15. Diaw: 7.1

So here again we see some players with low minutes in the Top 5 (Bolomboy, Withey), but the other three players in the top five are the three leaders of this year’s team: Hill, Hayward, and Gobert. Burks, Favors, and Ingles are close to being average players on the season . . . but man, Mack leads the suicide squad once again (it’s suicide if you play them). Mack is 2/3rds of an average player by this metric. (And yes, Dante is 12 of average player according to PER.) The problem here is that Mack has played the 4th most minutes this season.

There are lots of other metrics, though. Box score plus/minus. VORP. Win Shares. I’m not going to beleaguer the point here, but Mack isn’t looking too pretty in any of them.

  • Offensive Win Shares: -0.3 (14th)
  • Defensive Win Shares: 1.1 (6th)
  • Win Shares: 0.8 (10th)
  • Win Shares / 48: .041 (14th)
  • Offensive Box Score +/-: -1.8 (9th)
  • Defensive Box Score +/-: -0.2 (11th)
  • Box Score +/-: -1.9 (11th)
  • Value Over Replacement Player: 0.00 (11th)

These are not the desired ranks for someone who is, at worst, the team’s 6th man according to the rotation data (4th most minutes, 5th highest MPG). Rather, this is what a likely Playoff liability looks like. It’s easy enough for me to see it, because we see a whole lot of it that even someone as dumb as me #TookNote of it.

Shelvin Mack is UAT-ing up the Utah Jazz. UAT is just the sum of USG%, AST%, and TOV%. When he’s on the court no one has the ball more, and no plays end up being his shot attempts, assists, or turn overs more. When he’s in the game he has the greatest effect on what happens to the team on offense (you know, that thing where the Jazz have been losing ground because of over the last few games). And that’s a problem because as exposed before, he’s not really great on offense.

When ranked by cumulative UAT this is what you get:

Basketball-Reference.com, AllThatAmar

Mack is in control of over 60% of what happens when he’s on the court. Hill and Hayward are both in the Top 5 on the team rank, and in the high 50% range — but they are KILLING it on offense this year. Not far behind Mack we also see Diaw. Diaw and Mack are so high primarily because they are #1 and #2 in turn overs (as seen in TOV%) on the entire team.

Compare what Mack is doing to that of Burks, Hood, Ingles, or Johnson:

(USG% / AST% / TOV% - UAT)

  • Mack: .203 / .215 / .198 (.616)
  • Burks: .230 / .112 / .129 (.471)
  • Ingles: .144 / .163 / .156 (.463)
  • Hood: .235 / .117 .078 (.430)
  • Johnson: .184 / .120 / .100 (.404)

Sure, Mack has the highest AST% but is almost at a 1:1 ratio of AST% to TOV%. That’s not ideal. And I have to say that he’s shooting too much. It’s not that “that’s what the defense is doing, forcing the Jazz to pass it to Mack.” Mack is the dude with the ball in his hand who ends up driving into the paint for his “patented floater”. (Scroll up to see 5’10 Jameer Nelson blocking Mack again.)

If Mack’s job was to hold down the fort until the guards got healthy, he has done that. If his job was to specifically be offensive first off the bench to mimic what Burks does, he has done that. If his job is to be a me-first mercenary who is statistically below replacement level, and at the age of 26 not likely to get better, he’s kind of doing that too.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not going to eat Diaw’s lunch here. His minutes are going away now that Favors is healthy, Lyles is contributing, and Gobert is dominating. A lot of his turn overs were a result of the team not being aware of his passing abilities and tendency. He’s not playing great, the numbers agree, and the coach is not leaning on him.

That’s not the case with Mack. Who is, again, 26 years old. Dante Exum is 21, longer, faster, more pass-first, a better defender, and not going to catch up to the rest of the class by going slower. If Dante is to be a rotation player by the Playoffs then he needs to play now. If he’s “just not in the rotation” like Trey Burke was, then Lindsey may have to start thinking of Ty-proofing the roster for Quin.

But right now, Mack continues to play a lot, is the most ball-dominant player on the team, and isn’t even average. I guess some people are happy with seeing a guy take shots and score while getting killed on defense every night. Lots of people loved Al Jefferson and Randy Foye too. Which side of history are you on?


AllThatAmar is a crazy person, and he writes online for the purpose of exorcising his twisted and dark mind. Shelvin Mack is averaging 8.5 ppg (.452 .323 .667), 3.1 apg, 2.3 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.8 3ptm while playing 23.6 mpg this season. Yes, he is a point guard who is shooting in the low 30s from three and the mid 60s from the line in 2017. He has a 1.5 to 1.0 assist to turn over ratio. Amar made the mistake of discovering that just because someone has a position of authority, even in a field of precise expertise, that doesn’t make them immune to human error. Quin Snyder is a great head coach, a very smart and likable man, but Shelvin Mack shouldn’t be playing this much anymore.