Team USA: The Sudden Death Play That Was ‘So’ JaVale
The Washington Post’s Michael Lee called JaVale McGee’s limited time in the Team USA intra-squad scrimmage on Thursday night an “uneven” performance. You could say that — he had two points (1-2 FGs), two turnovers, a foul and a single defensive rebound in 9:40 of court action. You could also say that the defense McGee played on the final play, a sudden death game-winning lob dunk by McGee’s opposition, Tyson Chandler, was ‘so’ JaVale … as in typical. Let’s take a peek …
The Sudden Death Play
It’s a loose ball on the perimeter after a long missed shot by the blue team and McGee, in white in the middle of the lane, looks to have good intentions in going for it (even though he’s no where near being the closest person to the ball).
Ok … here, the loose ball is clearly about to bounce to No. 7, Rajon Rondo … time for JaVale to get back into guard/protect the basket mode, right?
Evidently not … McGee hangs out on the perimeter, standing flat-footed and forgetting about his man, Chandler. You can clearly see a pained expression on the face of McGee’s teammate, Chauncey Billups (No. 4), as if he’s saying, “Dude, what the heck are you doing out here?” Billups knows what’s about to happen. He knows McGee’s man must be wide open.
Let’s watch the play in full motion (around the 3:55 mark) … you’ll see that McGee and Billups initially got crossed in a pick switch, but that doesn’t ultimately excuse McGee from returning to his responsibility.
The reality is that McGee was never close to being able to get that loose ball … he’s likely conditioned himself to sprint to the other end on offense, which is a good thing, but not before your team has the ball. It sort of goes with that whole running uphill on transition defense and downhill on transition offense thing McGee has been accused of before. Or, him just needing to be more aware and focused. It will come in time, hopefully … as Chris Webber said during the broadcast, “This is a momentum building experience for him.”
Moving on …
I was unable to watch the first half of the scrimmage, but it doesn’t sound like McGee fared well at all. This Tweet from Lee almost sums it up:
Don’t know if Tyson Chandler pulled the rug on JaVale McGee or he just fell down, but that last over the head airball layup wasn’t pretty
Also know that McGee subsequently took an ill-advised jumper, something which NBA.com’s John Schuhmann says, “he shouldn’t be taking at all on this team.” Or on the Wizards, I’ll add.
As far as the second half, I’ve got some notes on McGee …
6:39 – Really bad help on a ball screen set by his man for Kevin Durant. Sure, KD is a tough guard, but McGee provided way too much lane as a driving mechanism and failed to even come close to cutting off Durant’s dribble.
6:19 – McGee set a ball screen for Billups, who then was doubled on the left wing. McGee cut right down the middle of the lane, the right thing to do. Unfortunately, he didn’t have his hands ready and Billups’ pass bounced off him … turnover, blue team the other way.
5:18 - McGee planted himself in the paint off the driving action of a teammate, Lamar Odom, who, going baseline, ultimately found JaVale in the right place for a dunk.
5:09 – Instead of trying to cut off the driver, which he had room to do, McGee prematurely jumped for big block, and whiffed, but Derrick Rose ended up missing his layup attempt.
And that’s about it.
There to play basketball … Michael Lee writes about McGee:
Jay-Z hit the same stage about an hour later, but McGee didn’t have any interest in checking out the hip-hop mogul in concert for the first time. McGee said he was headed back to the hotel room instead. He also was already focused on practicing and preparing at the New York Knicks facility in Tarrytown on Friday.
“What time is the first bus?” McGee asked, hoping to be among the first to leave the team hotel and get in some work.
Seems like Nike might be trying to keep LeBron muzzled.
Trey Kerby saw Yi Jianlian at the World Basketball Festival in New York. Evidently Yi hasn’t talked to Yao because Yao had a baby.
[Ball Don't Lie]
Finally, Comcast’s Chris Miller reports on McGee’s return to Team USA: