JaVale McGee: Golden State’s Golden Gem

By Jomari Carreon

The Golden State Warriors has been one of the perennial championship contending teams in the NBA in the recent decade. From being one of the teams who consistently finished at the bottom – half of the standings in the prior decade, they built their core through the draft and eventually managed to pull – off a historic championship in 2014 – 2015 season. Then last year, it all seemed that the back – to – back was never far from reality after having the best start in the history of the league (24 – 0). All season long they’ve been destroying their opposing teams by either winning by a big margin or coming back from big deficits. They finished the regular season with a historic 73 – 9 win – loss record and looked good deep into the playoffs after establishing a 3 – 1 advantage over the Lebron James’ lead Cleaveland Cavaliers in the season finale. Everybody though that is was a won series already but the Cavaliers pulled – off a miraculous comeback and won the first ever championship in the history of  the franchise.

After a heartbreak of an ending last season, they looked to retool their lineup. They gave up some key pieces in Festus Ezeli, Harisson Barnes, Maurise Speights, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush and Andrew Bogut to clear the cap space to try and lure the biggest fish in the offseason’s free agency in Kevin Durant ,which they eventually did. Knowing what he can bring to the table immediately brought the Warriors into the conversation of being the team – to – beat this season.

In spite of the opening day loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State has done enough to show the world that they are still the top – dogs. Early in the season, they’ve been leading the league in standings and most statistical categories.

Despite that I still believe that there is one glaring miss to their star studied lineup: they don’t have a dominant center who could impose their will inside the paint (A role that is used to be played by Andrew Bogut, who’s now playing with the Dallas Mavericks).  To start the season, Head Coach Steve Kerr let Zaza Pachulia play this role by throwing him into the starting lineup. Pachulia has done a decent job as the team’s starting center, but I don’t think that it’s enough. They need another big man who can impose his will and  help the job a lot easier for the four other guys on the floor. Looking into the Golden State’s lineup, JaVale McGee could be the perfect fit that could play that role and could be the missing piece that will help the team achieve their mission of regaining the championship.

JaVale McGee was drafted in the first round, 18th overall by the Washington Wizards on 2008 with the high hopes of bringing in a player who could help them solidify their front court. McGee has always shown some flashes of brilliance ever since he entered the NBA, unfortunately never really able to unlock his full potential and has been the laughing stock on the NBA because he’s always been on the wrong end of the highlight reels (I think Shaq would agree on that as he appeared Shaqtin’ a Fool more than any other player in the league). In his first tenure with the Wizards he averaged a disappointing 6.5 points, 4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 blocks.

In spite of not being able to meet the expectations that was thrown into him, we still can’t deny the fact that McGee complete physical attribute that is needed to become a great professional basketball player. Let me break down some of these attributes that I am talking about:

  • He got the size that will enable him to dominate in the post. It is already given that he is 7 ft tall and 270 lbs heavy, but what’s amazing about him is that he got a 7 1/2 ft wingspan that easy enabled him to have the highest standing reach in the league. That alone would enable him to dominate in the paint both offensively and defensively.
  • He is quick and agile that he can use as an advantage against other legitemate centers in the league. It enables him to quickly get into a good spot both offensively and defensively.
  • He has that undeniable athleticism. His 31.5 inch vertical leap makes him hard to contend in the air and a good asset defensively.
  • He has the genes of a basketball star running in his veins as he is the very first NBA player who’s mother played in the WNBA.

With the Golden State Warriors, he finally found a team that suits his talent. He continues to surprise this season and slowly but surely, he’s been able to unlock his full potential. Though, in the earlier part of the season he was nearly invisible as he only tallied a total of  263 minutes in 36 games. But despite that, he has made a significant contributons during his time on the court.

An injury that sidelined the Golden State’s starting center in Zaza Pachulia has greatly benefited McGee. He was the team’s defensive anchor by blocking shots and intimidating the opposing team. He also became the favorite lob target given his athleticism. During their Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunders he tallied a season – high of 15 points in 7 – 8 shooting in only 20+ minutes of action. When you look at the statline, you can see  how impressive Javale is this season. He has been averaging a career – high 67.5 field – goal percentage rating him second go Deandre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers. The most impressive part of the statline is his plus – minus, sources said that McGee is now leading the league in the said statistical category. Well, that is an indication that he is a positive contributor in this Warriors team.

He might not be as dominant as Shaquille O’neal or a Hakeem Olajuwon for the Warriors, but he can be perhaps be someone like Dennis Rodman and that’s all they ever needed. Be the role player, rim protector and top rebounder. For the Golden State Warriors to be successful this season on trying to bounce back and win the champion they will be needing the good play from McGee.

 

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