Throughout the community of Wizards fans, there is not a more polarizing player then JaVale McGee. There are supporters who believe McGee is a potential all-star and think Washington should do what they can to keep him, and then there are those who believe he has no basketball IQ and should be on the next flight out of DC. No one player elicits such a broad range of opinion when discussing his value to the Wizards and their long-term plans. Some say he should be moved immediately while he still has trade value; others say he is the future of the NBA (granted the latter is from his mom).
Whatever the case may be, Washington is going to have to make a decision on McGee. They MUST decide if he is going to be in the future plans of the team. As of right now, the team seems to be running in the wrong direction (courtesy of TrutAboutIt.net). There is no doubt about it that McGee possesses all the physical tools necessary to become a dominant center in the league, but his basketball IQ and level of intensity leaves a lot to be desired. He has shown improvement this year on both ends of the floor, and is currently averaging 10.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game. The 2.9 blocks per game is currently 1st in the NBA. The problem with McGee is consistency. This year, he has shown break out potential on any given night, but then follows it up with a lackluster performance where he appears to check out mentally. The big concern is having a solid work ethic and intensity level is not something that can be taught.
If you read between the lines on the above linked article, it sounds like the McGee family might be looking for a change of scenery. That is why Washington’s decision on McGee is so important. If a player is not going to reach their full potential in their current location, sometimes it is best for both parties to make a move. McGee is one of the few Wizards who would draw interest from other teams and might yield a decent return in a trade. On the flip side, if the Wizards have decided that JaVale is going to be a big part of their future, they must be prepared to commit a large amount of money to his next contract.
McGee will be a restricted free agent in this upcoming off-season, meaning any other team can offer him a contract. Washington would then have the option to match the offer if they so desired. The Los Angeles Clippers were in a very similar situation this past off-season in regards to their center DeAndre Jordan. The Golden State Warriors offered Jordan a 4 year $43 million contract. Los Angeles decided to match, and will pay Jordan roughly $10.75 million over the next 4 season. Rumors out of McGee’s camp are that they will be looking for a similar payday this off-season. Jordan and McGee’s game have often been compared, as they both possess similar size and athleticism, and are known more for their defensive presence then their offensive game.
Saturday’s game vs. the Clippers gave JaVale the perfect opportunity to prove what he was worth, going head to head with DeAndre Jordan. It is safe to say that Jordan dominated the match up statistically:
Jordan: 9-11 FG –18 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks
McGee: 2-7 FG, 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks
The stats are clearly in Jordan’s favor, but they don’t even tell the whole story. Where it seemed McGee was checked out of the game mentally most of the night, Jordan was busy dominating the paint on both sides of the floor from the very beginning of the game. He did not let up throughout the evening, continuing his dominance late in the game where twice in a row he got offensive rebounds over McGee, resulting in throw down dunks.
The game vs. the Clippers was just another “off” game for McGee. The inconsistency is troubling, and Washington will have to weigh his upside and potential against his current impact on the court. If McGee is part of the future, they need to be prepared to match large offers. If they come to the decision that he is not in the plans, a trade needs to be made so they are able to get something back in return.
With the NBA’s March 15th trade deadline quickly approaching, the Washington Wizards are going to have many decisions to make to try and improve their team. The decision that will be made on JaVale McGee will be one of the bigger ones that they make.