I hear the calling. It reminds me of around a quarter past eleven on Election Tuesday in my neck of DC…..the emissions of excitement I could hear out my apartment window coming from the buildings around me and the streets below. Ok…..well maybe I don’t hear it that much, but people really want JaVale McGee to start. From the distinguished Mike Wise, to the pragmatic Pradamaster at Bullets Forever, to the feigning rationality of Michael Wilbon, the call to get to the Choppa (JaVale McGee) is loud and clear.
With the movement among the blogosphere and MSMers full steam ahead, I’ve like to offer my alternative opinion. And not to say that I’m completely against inserting JaVale McGee into the starting lineup, it’s just doesn’t need to happen……yet. Here are five reasons for feeling the way I do:
2. This is McGee’s first year in the NBA….. a reason that has less to do with him being inexperienced and more to do with conditioning and my concern about his ability to play at a high, energetic level for the duration of a game (much less the entire season). Last year at Nevada, McGee only played 33 games and averaged 27.3 minutes per. The NBA is obviously a different animal and regardless of 1-5 starts, McGee’s rookie season needs to be treated like one would endure a marathon, and not breaking into a sprint out the blocks. Which leads to my next point….
3. McGee can play the same amount of minutes starting as coming off the bench. I obviously cannot attest to the endurance of JaVale McGee, but I would prefer his energy at the end of games, rather than him blowing his load early.There have been countless times where I’ve heard a player complain about not starting and being personally frustrated because said player doesn’t realize he can play just as much, and perhaps help his team even more, coming off the bench. McGee is not complaining, but the situation is similar in terms of it not mattering when the minutes come, just as long they come.
4. Starting brings more pressure. And that’s not to say that JaVale would fold under such circumstances. But coming off the bench allows McGee, as a rook, to better gauge a feel for the game. Sure the whole “we like his energy better off the bench” deal has some weight to it, especially when you consider that Young and McGee could be a helluva 1-2 punch, but it’s not an absolute argument. McGee is better at this point than we all could have imagined, but just like a pilot learning to fly, he needs to log more hours before unbuckling the co-pilot’s seat belt and jumping into the captain’s chair against the opposition’s starting five.
5. Veterans have feelings too. Ok, this one will surely come across as silly, and perhaps a throw-in reason among the five. Etan Thomas missed all of last year…because of heart surgery. Digest that. Thomas certainly has his deficiencies, but he’s playing better than most would have expected. Let him come in at the beginning of games….pridefully release some of his energy. I would be an advocate for bringing McGee in earlier in the 1st and 3rd….perhaps at the 6:00 and 7:00+ minute marks respectively. But Etan has to play at some point….might as well be sooner than later.
The consensus that McGee needed more burn was quickly built in the environment of mounting losses. Wizards Nation can rest assured that Eddie Jordan recognized this (how could he not?) and has adjusted his rotation accordingly.Can we be content with just that? Or do we have to immediately thrust it to the next level? My wait-and-see approach can easily flip a 180 at the drop of a hat, but if this Washington Wizards team ever intends to creep back in the playoff window, the step forward doesn’t necessarily start with JaVale McGee, but it sure might end with him.