I understand why everyone hates JaVale McGee – he does really stupid things on the basketball court and the national media eats it up. His seemingly low basketball IQ produces images that are eternally burned into our memory. It is impossible to un-see JaVale running back on defense when the rest of the team is clearly still on offense. You just can’t help but think about that when deciding how valuable he is.
All the celebration (and yes, it has reached a level of celebration) of JaVale’s silliness overshadows JaVale the Basketball Player. What we see is JaVale the Clown, JaVale the Goof, JaVale the Uninterested, JaVale the Ineffective, JaVale the Goaltender. JaVale the Shot Blocker, Rebounder, and Finisher do not matter. JaVale the Basketball Player goes completely without notice… At least to us.
Other teams in the league certainly notice JaVale. He will most likely receive a shocking contact offer from a more veteran team with a more mature set of players (or from the Warriors). He is going to leave the Wizards and become a defensive force. Yes, a force.
JaVale is currently being shopped, but apparently only along with Andray Blatche. This basically eliminates the possibility of JaVale being traded, since no GM in his right mind would take Mr. Blatche, Many Wizards fans act as if JaVale has no value, but whom do you think GMs around the league would pay more for: John Wall or JaVale McGee? It’s close, right? Do you still think the Wizards HAVE to get rid of JaVale?
A toxic roster poisons McGee. He is the second most talented (not the second best, though) player on a team full of isolation scorers and a point guard who isn’t totally a true point guard yet. This could NOT be a worse team for JaVale just like it could NOT be a worse team for Wall. JaVale and John should ultimately be perfect for each other if surrounded by a competent team. I am NOT saying they can be the best players on a championship team.
Let’s try to forget about our emotional responses to JaVale’s name and compare four different centers:
Player A: 28.2 MPG, 7.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.5 BLK, 64.9% shooting, 13.7 ORB% (% of available offensive rebounds grabbed), 23.2 DRB% (% of available defensive rebounds grabbed)
Player B: 27.4 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.6 BLK, 52.7% shooting, 12.2 ORB%, 23.7 DRB%
Player C: 33.2 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.4 BLK, 68.7% shooting, 11.2 ORB%, 22.8 DRB%
Player D: 31.4 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 0.7 BLK, 51.4% shooting, 15.4 ORB%, 26.5 DRB%
These players are all relatively comparable, right? Without knowing anything about their help defense, it’d be easy to suggest that there is not much of a difference between these centers. Let me blow your mind:
Player A: DeAndre Jordan
Player B: JaVale McGee
Player C: Tyson Chandler
Player D: Anderson Varejao
I’m not saying JaVale is a world-beater. I’m not even saying that he doesn’t suck. I’m saying the Wizards’ culture and Wizards’ current supporting cast is what hampers JaVale. He needs encouragement and coaching. He doesn’t need to be benched in favor of Kevin Seraphin, even if Seraphin did just outplay Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol (McGee had 12-12 in that game, by the way).
This team needs JaVale more than JaVale needs this team. Randy Wittman doesn’t seem to know this or care. Wittman is more interested in teaching this set of players a lesson and instilling a desire to “play the right way.” That’s fine and I’m all for it, but some time you have to teach and not only punish. McGee has taken to his punishment well, averaging per-36 numbers of 15.8 PPG and 14.4 RPG, even if he can’t say that he does understand why he is having his minutes limited.
JaVale elicits strong emotional responses from Wizards fans. Since Blatche went down with injury, the Wizard faithful turned their wicked pixels toward JaVale. The constant harassment by the media and blogosphere is somewhat earned, but also somewhat overblown. I’d submit to you that JaVale is a better player than you think, and it would be a mistake for the Wizards to let him walk.