2010 Wizards player evaluation: JaVale McGee

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 31: JaVale McGee #34 of the Washington Wizards shoots the ball over Aaron Gray #34 of the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena on March 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Every year, Bullets Forever staff members gather and evaluate the job each player on the team did during the season.  However, since 2009/10 was a pretty historic year, we figured it was time to change up the format as a way of commemorating the wackiness of what we just witnessed.  We'll do a different player every day around lunchtime, so check back then.  Today: JaVale McGee.  

Previously: Cedric JacksonCartier MartinQuinton RossFabricio ObertoEarl BoykinsJames SingletonNick YoungAl Thornton.


JaVale McGee

#34 / Center / Washington Wizards

7-0

237

Jan 19, 1988

Nevada

Contract status: Next year at $1.6 million, team option for 11/12 at $2.5 million

Previous evaluations: 2009.



FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2009 - JaVale McGee 60 16.1 2.6 5.1 50.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.2 1.9 63.8 1.5 2.6 4.1 0.2 0.9 0.3 1.7 2.0 6.4

Synergy Sports Stats

Type of play % of time Number of times Efficiency (points/possession) Rank
OFFENSE
Overall 100 407 0.94 184
Offensive rebounds 17.7% 72 1.15 76
Off a cut 17% 69 1.29 90
Post-ups 15.5% 63 0.59 176
Spot-up shots 13.5% 55 0.73 318
Pick and roll as roll man 10.8% 44 1.18 23
In transition 9.6% 39 1.28 34




DEFENSE



Overall 100% 291 0.86 87
Post-ups 37.5% 109 1.06 272
Spot-up shots 32 93 0.74 12
Isolations 15.8% 46 0.8 107
Pick and roll as roll man 11.3% 33 0.58 2





Make the jump for some analysis, some humor, some foreshadowing and a chance to grade JaVale McGee on a scale of 1-10 in the comments section.

Real quick thoughts

It's no secret that the Wizards weren't all that thrilled with JaVale McGee entering training camp.  He had put on some weight, but not nearly as much as the coaching staff wanted.  Meanwhile, he was not in good enough physical condition to properly withstand the grind of training camp.  As I wrote back then, the praise the coaching staff was heaping on Andray Blatche and Nick Young wasn't being heaped on JaVale McGee, and some of his teammates, especially Brendan Haywood, sounded a bit fed up with him.

The vast majority of the regular season wasn't very good for JaVale McGee either.  Saunders didn't trust him much, especially after a mid-December game against Indiana when he didn't run toward the basket to receive a lob with less than 0.3 seconds left. Blatche ended up taking most of the backup center minutes behind Brendan Haywood, and McGee got buried on the bench.  It wasn't exactly the kind of development we were hoping for with him this season, that's for sure.

But after the trades, McGee played much better, especially once Saunders elected to use him in a sixth-man role.  It eventually came out that McGee has a form of asthma, and either the Wizards didn't know about it for a while or were unsure about how to manage it.  I don't want to speculate too much either way, since it's a bit unclear, but regardless, that probably explains how McGee sometimes looks lethargic out there.  In the end, Saunders settled on having him come off the bench, and he played much, much better.  His numbers improved incrementally from February to April, and he made some strides on his biggest weaknesses: post defense and stamina.  

So in the end, it wasn't all bad.  But McGee still has a lot of work to do to become a functional rotation player.  His offensive Synergy stats read like a player who doesn't realize what he is good at.  He should be getting all his points on rebounds, cuts and pick and roll opportunities, not in isolation or on spot-up shots.  He can blame the Wizards' crappy point guards for the lack of pick and rolls, but he has nobody but himself to blame for the other stuff.  Saunders pulled him repeatedly for taking bad shots, so hopefully that will reign him in next year.  Defensively, he's still terrible when being posted up, so he has to get stronger right from the start.  He came into training camp far too light last year, and that can't happen again.

At the end of the day, McGee is a young big man with a ton of upside, so he's too valuable to give up.  At the same time, he also needs to have the experience of fighting for his starting spot.  The Wizards shouldn't hesitate to add interior help for next season if they can do so in a cost-effective way.  They didn't want to add another big this spring because they wanted McGee and Blatche to get as much experience as possible, which is defensible.  But experience time is over.  It's time for McGee to really earn his place in this team's future.  

There really aren't any excuses anymore, especially not with John Wall in town.  Here's hoping McGee makes that jump.

--Mike Prada

A limerick to sum up JaVale McGee's season

Poetrywriting_medium

His legs have plenty of pop
With those springs he won't be a flop
But he's duped a lot
Trying to block shots
It's hard to defend in mid-hop    

--Jake Whitacre

When you YouTube JaVale McGee, you get...


Well, that was an interesting academic study of Iron Man, I guess.

--Mike Prada

A player JaVale McGee should emulate

Gyi0060536022_medium

Sorry, I cannot help it. I still think McGee should try to emulate Dwight Howard.

Howard came into the eague as a skinny center and concentrated on defense, rebounding and building up his body. His offense is still a work in progress, but no one can deny that Howard has done a magnificent job learning how to defend and rebound. Not to mention the fact that he's now probably one of the strongest players in the League.

It will take years for JaVale to pack on the muscle, but in the mean time, he should concentrate on being the best defender and rebounder he can be. Let the offense come off the offensive boards, on the break and on those pretty alley-oop plays.

--Rook6980

Peering into the crystal ball

Arenas1_medium

Epic Vale is an interesting case.  I honestly hated him as a draft pick out of college, because I felt he was "just another big man with upside who can't play."  McGee doesn't always appear to be doing anything special, but metrics love him, with his PER being high for two years. The four players most similar to McGee at his age coming into this season, via Basketball Prospectus' book, were Andray Blatche, Al Jefferson, Jermaine O'Neal, and Tyrus Thomas, which is not too shabby.

With Brendan Haywood gone, the question now is whether Javale can perform as well with significantly increased playing time (such as Blatche, O'Neal, and Jefferson) and be more than just an energy guy off of the bench (like Tyrus Thomas).  He appears to have improved slightly from his rookie year, but we are all hoping for a bigger jump. The Wiz, meanwhile, might be wise to proactively give him an extension while his cost is relatively low.    

--Jon Kelman

Grading JaVale McGee

Taking all factors into account (expectations, performance, salary, etc.), how would you rate JaVale McGee's season on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being Juan Dixon bad and 10 being OMG TEH BEST SEASON EVAH?  Post your grade in the comments.

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