JaVale McGee's Team USA experience is officially over (barring some catastrophic injury to Tyson Chandler of course), and you can sense that he wishes it could have continued. I'm personally not overly disappointed that he won't make the trip to Turkey, since I honestly felt he was a longshot anyway, and I also think he will probably benefit from not having that wear and tear on his body later in the season.
But regardless of whether he ultimately made the team or not, McGee has been given a wonderful opportunity to experience a training atmosphere that's different from anything he's seen before. The key now is for McGee to take those lessons he learned and apply them going forward in his NBA career. I personally was not at any of the practices, and I don't know for sure exactly how McGee was coached, but here are five lessons I hope McGee took to heart during his Team USA stint:
1. The necessity of day-to-day hard work
Since they were preparing for a big international tournament, Team USA's training was likely very concentrated. For several weeks, these guys lived, ate and breathed basketball, whether it was practices, walkthroughs or weight sessions. For many of the players on the team, especially the more experienced players, that kind of schedule is second nature. I'm hoping that McGee fully realized that, for him to get to where he wants to be, that also has to become second nature to him.
2. The importance of paying attention to detail
Here's where I hope McGee learns from failure. On the last play of the scrimmage last week, McGee was caught woefully out of position on a loose ball, which allowed his man Chandler to slam in the game-winning shot.
It's just a scrimmage, but it was an example of the one thing McGee really needs to improve; his concentration and attention to detail. I imagine he was heavily instructed on the importance of this by Coach K all week. Here's hoping that play is the one that really spurs him to take pride in his concentration level.
3. The role playing that he'll need to do going forward
It's one thing to display poor shot selection when playing with Randy Foye and Al Thornton, but it's another thing when you're stealing shots from Kevin Durant and other great players. McGee did that on occasion when we saw him this week, and I'm sure he heard about it from the coaching staff. Hopefully, this experience helped make him realize that his meal ticket in the pros is setting screens, grabbing offensive rebounds and plugging the middle.
4. The humility of his stars
This isn't to say McGee is full of himself or anything; he's not. But there's always that lingering concern that he believes he has less to prove than he does. Whether it's fair or unfair, it's there. Hopefully, spending some time around guys like Durant, who never listens to his hype despite being a better player than pretty much anyone alive, will help remind McGee that he can't believe any little hype he's generated.
5. The fact that he's right there if he continues to work
On the flip side, it is nice that McGee hopefully gained some confidence from this experience. Confidence is fine, as long as it comes with humility and hard work. McGee should feel good that Team USA thought of him, and he should keep that in mind as he continues to improve. Everyone needs some positive reinforcement, and hopefully, this experience will be that for JaVale.