Saturday, July 17, 2010 3:36 p.m
By Joe Glorioso
We are going into year three of the JaVale McGee project and while he is surely developing, I don't believe it has been coming at the rate that Wizards fans were hoping for, nor the front office or coaching staff.
All is not lost though. Towards the end of last season and in a few brilliant games out here at the Summer League, McGee has shown some improvements in parts of his game that we have all been asking for.
Before we touch on those points, let's backtrack a second and revisit how McGee got to DC for those of you who have forgotten.
Coming out of college McGee was a Second Team All-WAC selection and was also named to the league's All-Defensive Team. McGee finished second among all WAC players in rebounding (7.3 rpg)in his final year at Nevada and also led the WAC in blocked shots (2.8 bpg, 14th in the country). Despite only playing two seasons before leaving the Wolf Pack, McGee ranks fourth all-time in school history in blocked shots.
The night he was drafted, Ernie Grunfeld had this to say:
"JaVale has a chance to be a solid addition to our team," said Grunfeld. "He's a seven-footer with a 7'6" wingspan, he runs the floor very well, and he's an excellent shot-blocker."
McGee went one slot after former Georgetown center Roy Hibbert and one slot ahead of former North Carolina State power forward J.J. Hickson, who was taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Here is a quick statistical comparison of the three players drafted 17th, 18th, and 19th in the 2008 draft.
For the sake of comparison and this is obviously not an apples to apples conversation as all three players have completely different roles on their respective teams but for discussion purposes and for those who like to play the what if game - as in - had we drafted such and such instead of....I wanted to provide you with all three players numbers.
Now obviously with different roles you will have different minutes so to make us all feel a little bit better about McGee and where he is at I want to also show you a side by side Per 36 Minutes comparison:
So what do all of these numbers really mean at the end of the day?
Honestly, nothing. They tell us that in a hypothetical world where McGee plays 36 minutes per game, he would average 14.9 points per game based on his real world statistics. They also tell us if you were to give the same amount of minutes to three players selected back to back to back, you'd have similar stats.
What those numbers don't show you are the important basketball fundamentals, or skills shall I say that you need and require from your Centers in the NBA and that don't show up in the box score of your local newspaper.
These include effective boxing out, help defense, running up and down the court on both ends of the floor, making the extra pass, not forcing shots, and doing away with the finger rolls.
Ok, the last one isn't that big a deal, especially because it seems to be a patented move by McGee or maybe he's just doing what Andray Blatche taught him to do.
Now, to recap - in his introductory press conference Ernie told us that JaVale would be a solid addition to the roster, had a big wingspan, could get up and down the court and would block shots.
Three years later can you really argue about any of those points?
McGee to be quite honest has been the least of my concerns over the past couple of years and I think he has continued to develop into his game and his body as well. As we learned early this summer, he is still growing, coming in at 7 feet without shoes and nearly 7'1 in shoes according to Grunfeld.
As far as his shot blocking ability goes, there is no doubt he has been as advertised in that category almost to a fault.
I have yet to witness a shot that McGee didn't think he could swat or just grab off the rim. His athletic ability is off the charts and allows him to do things that most 7 footers cannot do. The general rule of thumb is the taller you get, the less you can get up.
That rule does not hold true for McGee.
Part II coming later this week....