[NOTE: Truth About It.net 2011-12 Player Reviews start today, where we take a look at the past, present and future of those players who have touched the Wizards franchise in the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. And why not begin with a former Wizard who happens to be playing tonight? That's right... JaVale McGee. TAI's Rashad Mobley and John Converse Townsend take a look at Epic Vale's season. -Kyle W.]
Player Review Index: Morris Almond (we’d like to) | Andray Blatche | Trevor Booker | Brian Cook (maybe) | Jordan Crawford | Maurice Evans | Rashard Lewis | Shelvin Mack (coming soon) | Cartier Martin | Roger Mason Jr. | JaVale McGee | Hamady N’diaye (remember him?) | Nenê | Kevin Seraphin (coming soon) | Chris Singleton | James Singleton | Ronny Turiaf (meh) | Edwin Ubiles (we’ll see) | Jan Vesely | John Wall | Nick Young
JaVale McGee: DC Council Ratings
In 40 starts with the Wizards: 1.39 average stars out of 3
(McGee received two of the three ‘sub of the game’ nominations in his one game off the bench.)
Best Game: Jan. 2, 2012 – Game 4 at Boston Celtics
Worst Game(s): Jan. 23, 2012 – Game 17 at Philadelphia 76ers; Jan. 27, 2012 – Game 19 at Houston Rockets; Feb. 28, 2012 – Game 34 at Milwaukee Bucks
JaVale McGee’s three and a half year tenure as a member of the Washington Wizards ended on March 15th, 2012 when he was traded to the Denver Nuggets. But prior to that, McGee had career numbers in points (11.9), rebounds (8.8) and blocked shots (2.5). When he was at his best (like he was in back-to-back wins against the Pistons and the Blazers), he took shots within the offense, he stayed out of foul trouble, he was a (young) beast on the boards, and he blocked or changed shots that were attempted in his domain. And even though his hook shot wasn’t going to cause Kareem to lose any sleep, it was admirable that McGee took the time to work on a legitimate post move to complement his 7-foot-1 frame.
Unfortunately for McGee, when he was bad, he was bad. He still could not resist the temptation of taking a jumper from the top of the key, or driving to the basket with his head down, without any regard for human life (or the called play). And then there were those moments when he needlessly blocked a shot into the stands or ran back on defense while his team still had possession on offense. On a podcast with Bill Simmons on Monday, Ric Bucher mentioned that the most frustrating part of Rudy Gay’s game was the fact that he had so much talent, but he placed so little thought in how to put it to use. That sentence can easily be applied to McGee’s tenure in Washington, especially this season. It’s no wonder the Wizards front office lost patience and traded for a smart, crafty veteran like Nenê.
-Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)
Let’s not get it twisted: JaVale McGee hasn’t changed much since he left D.C., despite Kobe Bryant saying the big man is “blossoming” in the Nuggets-Lakers series, now 3-2 in favor of Los Angeles. People who watch the Wizards know that McGee has always had the talent to put up monster lines. His 21-point, 14-rebound performance in Game 5, a playoff career-best, made headlines, but McGee twice bested that total this season in games against the Sixers and Spurs before he got bounced west of the Mississippi. McGee has a different role in Denver; unlike in D.C., where McGee was sometimes asked to carry the scoring load with his back to the basket in the half court, George Karl has McGee focused on the doing the dirty work — setting screens, defending and rebounding. That’s simplified the game for McGee and has allowed him to take better advantage of his length and athleticism, and he has earned praise from his new teammates and coaches. He has also done a better job being physical in the paint (elbows!), but is still outmatched by stronger, more physical centers like Andrew Bynum. Fortunately, there are double-teams for that.
-John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)
The Manimal left McGee hangin’ after a big win over L.A.
Much like Blake Griffin, McGee still needs to develop, and perfect, just one post move to complement his athleticism. He seems to have taken a liking to the hook shot, but he needs to work on getting deeper post position and determining which angles work in his favor. JaVale was one of the main reasons the Nuggets defeated the Lakers in Game 5 of their series on Tuesday night, and another game or two like that will only improve his confidence, and more importantly, his maturity.
-Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)
Ernie Grunfeld wasn’t wrong to trade away JaVale McGee, nor was he unaware of the center’s game-changing potential. McGee simply wasn’t the answer at the 5-spot for the Wizards. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the year, and he’ll be looking to get paid — to the tune of $14 million per season (at least that the wish of young JaVale, momma Pam, and agent, B.J. Armstrong). That’s a steep price for a player notorious for being a knucklehead and who was ultimately relegated to the bench a few months into the 2011-12 season. The Wizards instead chose to invest in the Brazilian bruiser, Nenê. The veteran center is due $13 million over the next four seasons, which will be money well spent if the team’s end-of-season run is an accurate indicator of future performance.
Nenê’s career with the Wizards started off with a bang. He posted a double-double with 22 points (9-of-13 from the field) and 10 rebounds in a victory over the Nets to become the first Washington player since Moses Malone to put up at least 22 and 10 in a debut with the team. With Nenê averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, the Wizards went 7-4 (and could have recorded a better record had they not blown double-digit leads in three of those four losses) and outscored opponents by an average of 10.3 points per game (95.8-85.5).
Over that span, the Wizards held their opponents to just 85.5 points per game on .401 shooting from the field. To put that into perspective, Chicago, the best defensive team in the league, surrendered 88.2 points per game this season on .421 shooting; the Celtics posted the best OFG% at .419.
(In the 41 games before the three-way trade that sent JaVale McGee to the Nuggets, the Wizards were 9-32 with McGee at center and were outscored by an average of 8.5 points per game, 102.3-93.8. The Wizards went 11-14 after the trade deadline and outscored their opponents by an average of 1.4 points per game, 93.4-92.0.)
“Nene is one of the best big men in the East,” an unnamed Wizards player told Ted Leonsis in an exit interview in April. “I really didn’t know how good he was; to have an inside presence now changes everything. We have so much great spacing now. He really knows the game. He is a great guy. I think if we had had him all of this season we would have made the playoffs.”
That’s a ringing endorsement from inside the locker room, and more than any Washingtonian has ever said about McGee.