Wiz Extreme: The Education of JaVale McGee Pt. 2

Wiz Extreme: The Education of JaVale McGee Pt. 2
July 20, 2010, 7:23 pm
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 3:42 p.m.
By Joe Glorioso
WizardsExtreme.com

For Part 1 of this 2 Part Series Click Here

Where I'd like to see McGee improve in his shot blocking is where he becomes more selective of when he gets off his feet.

A lot of times we've seen instances where he goes for the swat, leaving his feet, the ball doesn't go up and the next thing you know, he's out of position. Again, a minor detail in the overall grand scheme of things.

When you talk about the ability to get up and down the court, that's another point we can start nitpicking a little bit. The word on McGee in the past has been that he tires easily and that by the end of games he generally doesn't have the energy to finish.

I'm really not sure how you can argue this point though. He's never had the consistent chance to prove that he can stay strong throughout an entire game.
Looking back at his minutes over the course of last year, his story is very similar to that of Nick Young.

His minutes per game skyrocketed in the last two months of the season compared to the first few months.

From March to April McGee averaged 23 - minutes per game while from November to February that number was a little shy of 7 minutes per game.

You are not misreading that, I said nearly 7 minutes per game and if we take out the month of February that number drops to 4.

In the first 50 games of the season, McGee had less than a minute of play or was a complete DNP in 27 of those games.

I'm not a basketball guru, but I do know simple math, and if you don't play, you can't get better. As Kyle from TruthAboutIt.net pointed out in an interview with Flip Saunders back in April, Saunders talked about McGee being in a Catch 22 situation.

He hasn't fully developed because he hasn't played a lot of minutes in both college and the pros. In order to get better, you have to play; in order to play the coach has got to trust you.
Part of that trust comes when the coaching staff feels that JaVale can contribute on both ends of the court as opposed to simply on the offensive end.

This leads us to this summer.

In our interview with Saunders right before Summer League started, Saunders pointed out that McGee needed to improve on his defense, specifically his defensive rebounding, as well as his defending the pick and roll.

Did we see enough from the four Summer League games to declare this offseason a success? By far the answer to that is a definitive no. McGee in my opinion still does not box out as well as he should and he still seems to struggle a bit getting over on his pick and rolls but I have sensed a progression in his game.

From the numbers listed above, we can obviously see that McGee was improving over the last few months of the season.

Combine that with the 7 pounds he is said to have put on in addition to the little extra height that he has gained, add in what we've seen to date in his play and you have no reason to believe that McGee is not getting better.

The question remains, is he getting better fast enough to gain the coaches attention and establish himself as a starting center in this league.

If Summer League is going to be any indication, through four games against mixed competition, the answer seems to be... maybe. His numbers look good, but again, this is Summer League.

His hardest test came Monday night against the Clippers and DeAndre Jordan, a guy he has been compared to quite often, and McGee struggled from the floor but had a good rebounding performance with 12 boards.

So far his stats over the course of 4 games look very good but the stats don't tell the whole story.

After having his best game on Friday night the Wizards Summer League coach Sam Cassell had nothing but praise for JaVale and it had less to do with the numbers you see above. Cassell talked about the intangibles - i.e. weak side help, being alert, and rebounding.

These are the little things that have been keeping McGee from realizing his true potential and in all honestly they are probably the things keeping him from logging heavy minutes. The fact that he is being recognized for them now, albeit in a short span can only be a good sign.

Even Flip Saunders got into the act, and when Flip is saying good things about Epic Vale, you know we might be on to something.

With all that said we hold out some hope that this chemistry that seems to have formed between our new franchise player John Wall and JaVale McGee continues throughout the summer and into training camp.

Flip Saunders has said on numerous occasions that point guards are sent from heaven. Well perhaps JaVale got his own special gift as well.

It would seem that McGee and Wall are a match made in basketball heaven and it just might be that in year three, McGee might have received the best gift of all... a franchise point guard that can bring out the potential that we all have been waiting to see.