We began the player preview features with Andray Blatche, arguably the most frustrating Wizards player. Today, we continue that trend.
Seven feet tall, great dunker, athletic freak, second in the league in blocks, and only 23 years old! These are the things you’ll hear from JaVale McGee’s fans and supporters. Lazy, not conditioned, low basketball IQ, no post moves, goal tending calls, and poor post defense. These are things you hear from people on the other side of the coin in regards to JaVale McGee.
At the end of the day, both groups are right. JaVale’s physical talent is rare and he could be as good as he wants to be in a league lacking a a great true center outside of Dwight Howard. Ask yourself, who is the second best center in the NBA? Is it Andrew Bynum? Joakim Noah? Nene? Tyson Chandler? Marc Gasol? Whoever you decide to anoint the second best, the drop off from Dwight Howard to everyone else is as wide as the Grand Canyon. The hope is that with time and development, JaVale McGee could become one of the NBA’s best centers.
Personally, I fall into the second group of people, the group that is continuously frustrated by JaVale. The block shots are nice, but JaVale McGee has to learn that blocking shots and dunking are not the only important things in basketball. Two weeks ago head coach Flip Saunders talked at length about McGee . “He has to become more a player of substance than of highlights”, he said. “We’re going to eliminate his full-court dribbling. If he does it, he’s going to be sitting with (Washington Post beat writer) Michael Lee over there.”
These are the things that we as fans have been dying to hear from the head coach about McGee. JaVale, and all his talent, needs to learn how to play the game of basketball. He is going to need to hustle and run the floor, he needs to get a post game, and play the game the right way. These are the same things that were said about JaVale after his rookie season. Now entering his fourth season in the NBA, McGee needs to grow up and finally develop and to JaVale’s credit, he is saying all the right things.
“I feel like I’m coming into my own as a leader. I don’t feel like I’m influenced by anybody, but I feel I’m definitely becoming more a leader. I came in as a rookie, and I was the only rookie. It’s definitely different now. I’m one of the older guys so I have to set an example.” Those are things you want to hear from his mouth, but the old saying still holds true—actions speak louder than words—and while I want to trust McGee, it’s hard to do when I see videos like this one via TruthAboutIt.net.
If the new and improved and team leader JaVale McGee i getting yelled at by John Wall to run in a training camp scrimmage, why should I believe he’s ever going to change? I highly doubt we see him taking the ball up the court this season, but as far as learning a post-game, playing post defense, and refraining from swatting obvious goal tends, I don’t expect to see any changes. However, there is one thing that could motivate JaVale McGee if nothing else will—money.
This is a contract year for McGee and by all accounts the man that drafted him, team president Ernie Grunfeld, wants him back long-term. This would be yet another terrible mistake made by Ernie Grunfeld. Ernie has done a better job recently in building with young players and getting some players that can be here for a long-time and fill roles with guys like Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker, Shelvin Mack, Jordan Crawford, possibly Jan Vesely, and obviously John Wall. The issue at times with Ernie is his affinity for the guys he drafts. He rewarded Andray Blatche with a new extension a year ago and it was a disaster for Blatche a season ago. JaVale McGee is cut from the same cloth as Blatche mentally and psychologically. Neither have the basketball IQ or work ethic to reach their full potential, but Ernie Grunfeld continues to be teased by their few flashes of immense talent. The emphasis the past two seasons has been on young players and developing these young guys, but not all young players turn in to good players. Some of these guys just don’t cut it and I hope Ernie realizes that. However, since the start of last season I’ve heard Grunfeld refer to McGee as a young player that will develop. My question would be when? Because we are all still waiting.
The smart play for Grunfeld with JaVale McGee would be to let this season play out and if JaVale doesn’t show improvement in his game and continues to make the same mind-boggling mistakes and doesn’t hustle, then you let him walk as a free agent next summer. Let’s just hope that Ernie—or the next team president if Grunfeld is fired—doesn’t pay McGee a long-term extension, because he certainly has not earned it yet.
Twitter: @Kevin_Hine and @WizOfAwesKevin