Watching McGee play offense is to witness hopelessness in its rawest form. In yesterday’s incredibly disappointing loss against New Jersey, JaVale McGee contributed sparingly, scoring 11 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, and blocking 2 shots in 28 minutes of play. His offensive game fit the stereotype of almost all the long armed, long legged 7-footers playing in today’s game, ranging from inconsistent to nonexistent to shield-your-child’s-eyes embarrassing. McGee made just 1 of 6 possible free-throws and finished the game a deplorable -19 in +/- (tying him with the Nets’ Shelden Williams for a game worst).
He seems confident enough with the offseason work put in to think his mid-range turnaround is the second coming of 2004 Kevin Garnett, but it’s miles and miles away. Light years in fact. There’s a stronger than steel chance McGee’s turnaround jumper never receives the respect it doesn’t deserve, yet he keeps going to it. That and the drunken bowling ball stumble through the lane that results in a wild runner nowhere near the rim are two of his most “loyal” offensive options, and they’re both disgusting, even by contemporary big man standards.
But that isn’t where McGee’s value lies; we already know that. McGee’s offense is dependent on those around him, and thankfully for Washington a brilliant point guard may be able to make his flailing limbs more than useful. Last night he was 4-5 on shots at the rim, but 1-6 three feet and out. (I’ll say this, you better respect him on pick and rolls to the basket.) On the other hand, defense is where McGee, and every other big man of his athletic ilk, will make his money. Unfortunately for Washington, the market for such one dimensional players seems to be on the expensive side. We know at least two teams (Warriors and Clippers) were willing to pay DeAndre Jordan at least $40 million over four years ($10.75 million a year through the 2014-15 season, to be exact, is what Los Angeles ended up paying), and the two are very similar in structure, limitations, and worth. Jordan seems to have a brighter head on his shoulders, but apart from that, separating the finest details of their respective games is difficult. What those teams saw in Jordan, they’ll surely see in McGee, and that poses a problem for the Wizards who will be faced with a difficult decision when their young center, and his $3.5 million qualifying offer, becomes a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
If Washington chooses to match the eventual offers big-man-craving organizations throw out there, they could be digging themselves into a deep hole. Locking up someone with a contract of McGee’s usefulness is saying he’s a key component of the team’s future, and I’m not so sure he is. It’s not that they can’t afford it. With an amnesty provision still lingering and the Nick Young money not scheduled to be going to Nick Young, the Wizards will have PLENTY of cap space and money to throw around. But does that mean spending $10 million a year on JaVale McGee is brilliant? God no. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles in paying the trees of our modern day NBA. No matter how aloof that tree may be.