JaVale McGee is often criticized for his play on defense and the defensive boards. Well the game against the Grizzlies brought with it a chance for him to matchup with one of the better young Centers in the league, Marc Gasol. And in this game, not only did the Wizards pull out a tough win, but JaVale also held his own. One could easily argue that McGee had the greater impact on the game when comparing to the two young Centers.
As is the case in most games, stats don't tell the full story. Even though they do show that the two Centers played fairly evenly, statistically speaking. McGee played just over 38 minutes and finished with the following line: 10 Points, 4-7 (.571) FG, 2-2 FT, 12 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Steals, 3 Blocked Shots and 1 Turnover. Gasol played just over 36 minutes and had the following line: 16 points, 7-9 (.778) FG, 2-3 FT, 8 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Steal, 1 Blocked Shot and 2 Turnovers. It is also important to note that the Wizards appeared to be more effective offensively when McGee was on the floor, a evidence by his higher plus/minus ratio of +7 versus Gasol's -9.
Again stats only tell part of the story. In this game McGee appeared to be much more committed to rebounding and much more focused on defensive. McGee was also able to combine a good fundamental offensive rebound with a spectacular dunk.
McGee was able to use his length and leaping ability to his advantage during this game particularly on the boards. And even when he was not able to get the ball himself he was able to tip the ball keeping it alive for one of his teammates. Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins said after the game, "JaVale McGee had six offensive rebounds and they had 16 for the game, but he was the main culprit. They just did a nice job of using their athleticism. We knew going in that JaVale McGee is doing a great job on the offensive glass." A point not lost on Marc Gasol who said, "JaVale [McGee] does a great job of coming over everybody and tipping or dunking anything around the rim. It's hard when you have a player like that."
Probably the best play that he made during a very solid night, came following a mistake. McGee turned the ball over attempting a play on the perimeter that he should not have tried. Rather than quitting on the play, he took a page from John Wall's playbook and chased Mike Conley down and blocked his shot against the backboard. McGee deserves credit for immediately correcting his one turnover of the game - in spectacular fashion, I might add.
Grizzlies Forward Rudy Gay may have said it best, JaVale McGee is "an athletic freak. He got out there and definitely made an impact on the night. He's a great player and he's continuing to get better."
This is only one performance and JaVale like all of the young Wizards have to learn to be consistent with their play. However, when we are critical of his miscues we most also take the time to recognize him when he plays well.