What if I told you one of the most naturally gifted players in the NBA also happens to be one of the most immature players the league has ever seen?
It’s true. Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee, a four-year veteran at the ripe old age of 24, has made a name for himself largely due to his mental blunders and embarrassing plays. Not exactly the resume that endears oneself to a new team.
McGee was traded to Denver after playing his whole career in Washington. The Wizards drafted McGee 18th overall back in 2008. After playing at the University of Nevada for three seasons, McGee thought he was ready to enter the NBA.
To say that was a mistake is an understatement. McGee is a seven-foot player and all of 250lbs. His raw athleticism is not, nor has it ever, been in question. With a wingspan of 7ft 6.5 in, McGee has few physical peers in the league.
Unfortunately, without discipline or work ethic, things can get out of hand in a hurry. McGee’s mental lapses include running back on defense when his team is on offense, saving a ball under his own basket leading to the opponent scoring on a fast break, trying to dunk from the free-throw line in a game….twice, and a slew of intentional goal tending calls.
That is bad, but my personal favorite goes a little something like this: Your team is down 20 points. You have the worst record in the NBA. You somehow show your talent and almost achieve a triple-double only to miss it by one point because you are given a technical foul for hanging on the rim and the basket is wiped away.
All of this aside, the kid is talented. He’s now on a team with a veteran NBA coach. George Karl has a reputation for being tough on players and molding younger players into legitimate NBA players. It is possible, with Karl’s discipline, routine, and knowledge that McGee may finally flourish in Denver.
So far this pre season, he is being outplayed by forward Kenneth Faried. McGee does, for his part, look to be more engaged this year. He hasn’t had any real silly mistakes. Denver is a good place for him, and it might be his last hope of salvaging what should be a pretty stellar NBA career.
Above mentioned talent is the sole reason he remains in the NBA. Although at this point, most critics wouldn’t call what JaVale has talent anymore. Now, it’s back to just potential. And he has tons of it. When it finally turns into superstar talent, watch out.