Mack in Maine: D-League PG provides NBA Insurance

While the Boston Celtics were getting spanked by Milwaukee last Friday evening, their affiliate may have made strides to fill a hole.

Friday night was the NBA Developmental League's draft. The Celtics' affiliate, the Maine Red Claws held the No. 4 pick in the first round.

With that pick, Maine drafted point guard Shelvin Mack.

Mack, you may remember, was the point guard on those Cinderella Butler teams that lost back-to-back NCAA Tournament Championships in 2010 and 2011.

He also played in the NBA last season with the Washington Wizards. The Wizards chose him with pick No. 34 in the 2011 NBA draft.

Mack stuck with the team for 64 games, averaging a tick over 12 minutes a night. He served as the team's fourth or fifth guard for much of the season, earning some minutes backing up John Wall. In fact, after Wall and Chris Singleton (66), Mack tied Jordan Crawford for the second most games played.

He was waived this summer after signing a two-year deal with Washington worth just $1.23 million in December. That tossed him into the D-League pool.

After former Celtics first-rounder, JaJuan Johnson went first-overall to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Andrew Goudelock and Justin Harper followed him to Sioux Falls and Idaho, respectively. The Red Claws were on the clock next.

The Maine war room seemed pleased with the opportunity to draft a point guard with NBA experience on his resume. Austin Ainge, the Celtics Director of Personnel told the Portland Press Herald;

"He's an NBA-caliber guard. Solid all the way around. He can pass, shoot, dribble and he can defend. Strong, and a really good person."

In three seasons as a Butler Bulldog, Mack averaged 14.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He likes the three-point line a bit much, but connected on 36 percent of his shots from down town, while maintaining a field goal percentage of 42. He also averaged more than a steal a game and was a 76 percent free-throw shooter in college.

Mack really made his name in the NCAA Tournament, however. In the 2010 run, Mack, a sophomore, scored in double figures in each game, including a 16-point, seven-rebound, three-assist performance in an Elite Eight victory over Kansas State.

In his final season, the Bulldogs once again made noise in March, with Mack leading the way. He averaged more than 20 points per game in the tournament. He posted a 30-point outburst in a one-point win over Pittsburgh early on. The real magic came in a 27-point Elite Eight and 24-point show in the Final Four.

Mack is also just 22, after forgoing his senior season at Butler for the NBA draft. 

As a pro, Mack performed with limited playing time. He averaged just under four points per game, to go along with a pair of assists.

He tallied 12 points and four assists in a February loss to Orlando. His highlight was a 10-point, eight-assist affair against New Jersey late in the season.

While Mack never truly broke out, he was remarkably steady. He was only held scoreless five times when seeing more than ten minutes.

While none of this is striking, the number to keep in mind is 41.7. That is the current average number of minutes Rajon Rondo has played through three games this season.

This is a very important number to keep your eyes on, as it should ideally be in the mid-30s. Rondo has averaged 37 minutes per game in each of the past two seasons, and he has missed a combined 27 games. Rondo is prone to breaking down due to overuse, just the same as any player.

A lot of this will hopefully subside with the impending return of Avery Bradley in December, but that is not a given.

Leandro Barbosa was thought to be brought in to help with backup point guard duties, but neither he nor Jason Terry has been excelling in the role.

Analysts may have overestimated Terry's ability to create his own shot successfully. Through three games, it appears he is far better suited playing off the ball, leaving Rondo on the court for way too many minutes. 

The Red Claws don't kick-off their season until November 23 in Canton. If Rondo's minutes haven't subsided over the first month of the NBA season, the Celtics may start looking elsewhere for a cure.

As of June 2012, the Boston Celtics are the lone affiliate of the Maine Red Claws. This gives them the control of personnel with the team and lands them the first crack at Mack, should the need appear.

Either way, it is nice to know there is an option with NBA experience right down on the farm for Boston to pick up if necessary.

The remaining picks for the Maine Red Claws went:

Round 4. Omar Reed (F, Bluefield)
Round 4. Cervante Burrell (PG, Seattle)
Round 5. Jeremiah Rivers (G, Indiana)
Round 6. Ron Allen (F, Cincinnati)
Round 7. Scott VanderMeer (C, Illinois-Chicago)
Round 8. Corey Allmond (G, Sam Houston State)

You can follow Mike Walsh on Twitter @3rdStringWalsh