Sean tipped me off to this quote yesterday when he was at practice, but due to all the Gilbert Arenas drama, we didn't have a chance to get it up. Now, it's up, and it's concerning.
Via Michael Lee, apparently JaVale McGee is confused when Flip Saunders tells him he needs more substance in his game.
"Truthfully, I don't understand what exactly what substance he wants. I'm trying to rebound so if that's the substance he wants then I'm going to try my best to do that the most but I don't understand, so I'm just trying to go for everything, offensively and defensively, even if it's not even my rebound. I've decided I just don't care. I'm just going to try to get as many rebounds as possible."
Well that's a strange thing to admit.
To a certain extent, I sympathize with JaVale in that they need him to be something he's not. I've been unable to get this thought up anywhere in a couple years, but I continue to worry that his skill set duplicates Andray Blatche's too much, not to mention Yi Jianlian's. Because the Wizards need Blatche shooting and passing in the high post, they need JaVale to be the muscle down low, and that's just not his strength. He's also not really capable of switching to the high post yet when Blatche goes down low because he still commits too many turnovers. Neither player is the kind of guy who occupies bodies on the glass, and neither player can physically bug post-up threats. Because Dray, at this point, brings more to the table elsewhere than JaVale, all these physical things fall to JaVale by default, and his body type isn't suited for that.
But at the same time, JaVale's response to this confusion should be to clear it up with the coaching staff and work on getting better at it, not guess and just do what he thinks he should do based on that guess. Without realizing it, JaVale's essentially advocating for a somewhat selfish strategy here. He means well, but just having him go for every rebound himself isn't the way to go. That would lead to what I call the "Mike Miller specials" (i.e. the easy rebounds he grabs from others when he should be doing something else to help his team). In fact, what Saunders really wants JaVale to do a lot of the time is to occupy defenders and do those little things to help others get the rebound. Those are "substance" plays, because they help your team.
It's so important for a coach and his young player to be on the same page during a year of development. I don't like that this doesn't seem to be the case with McGee and Saunders right now.