DALLAS — JaVale McGee put a sweet spin move on his man, drove baseline, swooped under the basket, cupped the basketball on the under side of his wrist and was on his way to the top highlight slam dunk of the night.
Until he made an almost predictable U-turn onto the blooper reel.
McGee’s right-arm windmill action didn’t quite whip up high enough and he practically jammed the ball between the back rim and the backboard.
The 7-footer is in his first full season with the Denver Nuggets after being acquired last year in a trade for veteran big man Nene. In the offseason, the Nuggets committed to the 24 year old bursting with potential but so far is still more of a proven goofball than All-Star.
Kosta Koufas is the starter with McGee getting about 19 minutes a night. In Friday night’s 106-85 rout of the Dallas Mavericks, McGee got just 16 minutes, slammed home a couple of alley-oops, plus another dunk for his six points to go with four rebounds a blocked shot and three fouls.
McGee rarely finishes games. He is averaging 10.7 points and 5.0 rebounds a game. His most impressive stat is 59.2 percent shooting, by far a career best. But he has a reason for that.
“Less shots,” McGee said. “I got the same dunks and layups I did in Washington here, it’s just I had more opportunities. But here I don’t get shots so it’s a higher percentage.”
Karl said he doesn’t regret the franchise handing a big contract to the affable McGee, who is often times equally aggravating in an innocent, slap-your-forehead kind of way.
“I think he’s a really good, important player for us,” Karl said. “But in the same sense I’m going to play the guys who I think can help you win the game.”
So much of McGee’s career has been steeped in potential. His size and skill is tantalizing. Just trying to apply it all can drive a coach bananas. Which is part of the reason Karl has McGee coming off the bench and playing the fewest minutes he has since his second year in the league.
“I think he’s showing me he’s about a 20-minute basketball player,” Karl said. “For me, I go into most games, I have no idea who’s going to finish the game and it’s earned as the game goes on.”
McGee had all the right answers after Friday’s game when it came to his limited playing time. Perhaps three-plus seasons in Washington will do that to any player.
“As long as we win, I can’t feel any way about it,” McGee said. “I’m just trying to help the team win and do everything I can to make sure that we win games. It’s definitely a blessing being on a wining team. It’s a lot more positive. Just happy to be here.”