JaVale McGee Eager To Rise In Stature

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Google “JaVale McGee” and you know as well as he what’s coming: “JaVale McGee Top 10 Stupid Plays.” A YouTube staple.

The most prominent photo is a close-up of the 7-foot center’s familiar scrunched face in full-on flummoxed mode, head slightly cocked, mouth half agape. It’s practically begging for someone to draw a giant question mark inside a cartoon cloud bubble over his head. Chances are Shaquille O’Neal — McGee being a favorite punch line during TNT’s studio show and its “Shaqtin’ A Fool” segment — beat you to it.

“People around the NBA really think that I’m dumb or stupid,” McGee said. “But people that know me know that I’m actually very intelligent. It doesn’t affect me at all.”

In fact, McGee, who goes by an alter ego called Pierre on his colorful Instagram and Twitter accounts, has big plans. With a new coach and a fresh slate this season in Denver, rising to All-Star-caliber-big-man status, he said, is within his grasp.

“Definitely,” McGee told NBA.com this week. “I feel like I’m extremely athletic, extremely fast, extremely agile for being a 7-foot big man and just need the right people behind me to be able to bring what has to come out to be a dominant center in the league. There’s a lot of things that haven’t even been [brought out] of my game that people haven’t even seen. So I just feel like this is going to be the season.”

McGee ready for increased role

That job belongs to rookie coach Brian Shaw, who replaced the fired George Karl, who inherited McGee in a trade and, judging by playing time (18.1 mpg last season), ultimately viewed McGee more as the goofball in those video clips than a potential game-changer. After McGee logged just 16 minutes in a late December game at Dallas, Karl explained: “I think he’s a really good, important player for us. But in the same sense, I’m going to play the guys who I think can help you win the game.”

In a real sense, the transitioning Nuggets, who awarded McGee a $44 million extension last year, chose McGee’s potential over Karl’s success. The revamped front office traded Karl’s favorite starting center, Kosta Koufos, and still doesn’t know if McGee will mesh with starting power forward Kenneth Faried (a Karl concern) or if McGee can thrive playing 30-plus minutes a night.

They just know they’ve got 44 million reasons to find out.

“I’m definitely getting that feeling from the coaches that I’m going to be more of an impact and getting more minutes,” said McGee, who enters his sixth NBA season and second full season in Denver after 3 ½ oddball years with Washington. “It’s really up to the coach as to how he wants to use me. It’s up to me to work and everything, and I’m going to do that. So if I work hard and I come prepared and in shape for training camp, there’s nothing that can stop me but the coach.”

McGee, 25, is eager to get started. He returned to Denver earlier this month to begin working with Shaw and the new coaching staff. He said he sees an offense that will station him at the elbow to begin sets and will allow him to work the low post and also stretch the defense with a mid-range jumper he said the league has yet to really lay eyes on, but one, he added, he can drain from 17 feet and in.

Post play still a work in progress

He cedes that many fans might only recognize him for boneheaded plays on blooper reels gone viral, but he’s certain opposing players take a different viewpoint of his capabilities.

“With players, my reputation is of a guy that you don’t want to be caught running around with because there’s a high probability you’re going to get dunked on,” McGee said. “And my reputation is also a guy that you want to move the ball around in the air or else you’re going to get it blocked, basically.”

McGee can throw down a dunk and he almost led the league in blocks in 2010-11. Other areas are less refined. For example, he can be clumsy getting position in the low post, and when he gets the ball, he’s not yet ballerina-like with his footwork. But how many big men today are?

McGee has averaged 8.7 ppg on 54.2 percent shooting and 5.7 rebounds over his first five seasons. He averaged a career-high 11.3 ppg and 7.8 rpg in 2011-12 split between Washington and Denver.

He dropped to 9.1 ppg and 4.8 rpg last season as Karl squeezed his minutes. The statistical website Basketball-Reference.com projects a 36-minute-a-night McGee to average 16.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 3.4 bpg. Those numbers would have put him in the top five in each category among centers last season. McGee said his goal is to average a double-double and two or three blocks a game.

“I definitely have post moves. I have a mid-range shot that I really never got to use my whole career in the NBA,” McGee said. “Coach Karl didn’t want his ‘bigs’ shootings at all. [Defenses are] probably going to leave me open for the mid-range, so I definitely got to take that shot.”

‘Just a big kid’ at heart

The shot getting plenty of attention recently is on a 20-second video clip that media outlets homed in on because, well, it’s JaVale being goofy again. The video shows McGee beating a pint-size kid at Pop-a-Shot, celebrating the victory and playfully proclaiming into the camera, “Who said I couldn’t shoot 3s?!”

It’s pretty funny, and harmless. It comes courtesy of McGee himself, posted on Instagram. He posts a lot of clips, all PG-rated, mostly fun-loving and all just very JaVale. Which also feeds into the goofball pipeline, one that can fill his social media pages with teases, jeers and worse, but also one for which McGee makes no apologies.

“I’m just a big kid, basically. I love to have fun,” McGee said. “I love being around positive people and making people smile. I don’t do anything malicious or anything in a negative manner. I’m all about positivity and making people smile is positive.”

When the goofiness and, yes the stupidity — how else to describe much of the YouTube montage? — invades his game, his coaches (he’s had four in five seasons) aren’t smiling. Those plays evidence a confounding selfishness and at times a perplexing obliviousness to game situations. The majority of those incidents happened with the hapless Wizards. A better situation, the belief goes, brings sharper focus. McGee touts his maturity and unselfishness last season by never complaining about playing time and accepting his role on a club that won 57 games.

“I’m definitely more mature than I was my first two or three years, but I actually was very mature last year. I just wasn’t really given the opportunity to really be what I could be,” McGee said. “But I feel like this coach has a lot more confidence in me.”

McGee must keep it by continuing to mature and by working hard to develop the tantalizing talent that often torments his own team. If not, his Google results will never change, his Twitter timeline will still fill with taunts and teases and Shaq will keep poking him on national TV.

“I don’t watch the shows,” McGee said. “Most of the time people will be at me on Twitter and stuff like that, but I just read it and move on and live my life. I tell you that a lot of the people that actually say something, they would pay anything to be in my position, and the fact that they do, that is actually a positive thing because there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

After Shaq splattered him on his “Shaqtin A Fool” segment, McGee reported his Twitter followers spiked.

The Nuggets would simply prefer a “JaVale McGee” Google search that no longer starts with a top 10 list of stupid plays.

30 Comments

  1. lol says:

    more minutes for Mcgee means that his gunna reach his potential and be the eternal Shaqtin a fool champion….comon the guy is a brick and got no stamina to play 35 minutes a game, he can have 1 or 2 good dunks or blocks in a game but thats it, i feel sorry for the nuggets who have to pay all that money on this guy, big fiasco…am predicting that Mcgee will end up in CBA soon.

  2. Coco says:

    Shaqtin a fool champion javale mcgee! Keep it up boy, your the best at what you do…

  3. imdaking#6 says:

    Javale is good. he needs to be only concern with defense. Denver can use that. let Kenneth post up and Javale play defense. he can be the next James Edwards. ( yall youngins can look him up) being agile helps him run the floor better that a big center. it’s not a center’s game any more. the guards and forwards have taken over, but there is no real shot blockers. @ james murray, i to want him in Miami.

  4. the man of knowledge says:

    Hes a big man who has aquired basketball its not natural so he will never really be a star. Sure he has some skill but hes not avering more than 15 ppg ever

  5. Sale says:

    I believe he has all the tools, but he has to focus. I think he suffers from “tunnel vision” with ball too often, he plays faster than he thinks… Just relax more with the ball and he’ll make difference

  6. james murray says:

    I hope Denver cuts him so Miami can pick him up next year when they are going for 4 in a row. lol

  7. dmh says:

    The game is around 80% psychological. Javale McGee hasn’t quite mastered the psychological on a regular basis. Dwight Howard also has maturity issues (cough cough all last season) but he has figured out how to put at least 75% of that away when he steps on the court and lets the game do the talking. It will be interesting to see if he can put the other 25% of the maturity issues away with the rockets this season…. but I digress….

    Javale McGee can do it. If he is able to put his head down and work, the rest of his career could be of the tall skinny tough type…. ala a poor man’s Garnett. The thing that makes McGee the furthest from KG is his lack of maturity. I don’t think at 25 he will be able to make up that maturity gap to make up that physical gap. However, in the type of fast paced system Denver is planning on running, he can potentially earn back some of the money that Denver spent.

    Long story short, I will believe it when I see it. I think McGee will show plenty of tantalizing flashes. He will get more minutes. I can still hear Shaq salivating for next year’s Shaqtin a fool.

  8. SYDALE says:

    He needs to work on his freethrows… With his athleticism… He should be taking 8-10 freethrows per game… If he can get to 70% from the line… then that’s 5-7 easy points… Add in 4 baskets (completely doable) and he’d average 13- 15 points per game… That would make him a solid Center… and damn near an All-Star by today’s Center standards…

  9. Carvin says:

    Being on a loosing teams seems to strange thing to some players and if change doesn’t happen fast they end up doing crazy things. Washington Wizards and some have mentioned is a prime example, Andre Blatche is another super talented big man that lost focus and was about to wrote off as a bust, well we saw what he did for the New Jersey last year. Smart people can see beyond the effects and find the cause with players like McGee and Blatche, others want instant results without doing any work and with young players you’re not going to get mature players, so in the end who’s stupid the player or those expecting them to be something they’re yet to become…

  10. Carvin says:

    I find it amazing that Shaq would make fun of any player, Shaq who made you cringe every time he shot a simple free throw. Plus he got worse before he retired. Unlike Shaq, McGee doesn’t depend on brute strength to score. There are a lot of hard headed coaches who don’t take advantage of the skills most big men have and that’s sad. His mother called him the big secret before he got drafted and because he didn’t play at a high profile program, he was just that. I’m a fan of McGee and wish and expect big things from him this year.

  11. TTKIN says:

    Ok Javale let’s be honest with one another…you may not be as stupid as everyone on earth thinks you are, but c’mon bro, you aint “very intelligent” hahaha.

  12. zbopsports says:

    I believe JaVale will rise to a higher level this year and become a more significant player. Leaving DC was perhaps beneficial to him, although I hope he returns, when the Wizards organization also matured. The awards were as laughable as many proclaimed JaVale to be. Forunately both JaVale and the Wizards appear headed in the right direction.

  13. Andre' says:

    Thanx a lot Washington. Trade an up n coming star big man for a borderline retired has been (NeNe). I knew this would happen. Goes back to Chris Webber, Ben n Rasheed Wallace. Ernie Grundfeld should’ve been fired 10 yrs ago.

  14. elvis says:

    he is one of few player that is rly exciting to look at… his slams are great
    as someone said, he dont make so much bad things, only people expect him to make them and watch him too closely…
    keep getting better javale, i like u playing very much.

  15. jty7271 says:

    Javale is gonna kill it next year with substantial minutes. He can do things on the basketball court that no one else can. He’s so long and athletic some of the reboundss, blocks and dunks he gets just blow your mind. The high light videos in this blog represented that pretty well, I thought.

  16. Ari says:

    McGee has actually been pretty good if people don’t just go off of youtube videos, and given more time and when he’s starting to reach that critical playing age I definitely see him having a big positive impact. Looking forward to this next season JaVale!

  17. spiteri says:

    In all honesty i wouldnt say mcgee needs to work on his strength as much as you think, strength isnt going to give him more co-ordination or balance which are the two things i believe he needs to work on the most. If i was to train him balance would be my first area to address. I believe he would have a good baseline of strength and if he had more balance he could use that more effectively, an ultimately he could use it to improve his post game. I think he will be a great centre and i think he will have a great season this coming one

  18. jagay mcgee says:

    yes its true that he is a very athletic and agile bigman, but he doesn’t have the i.q and fundamentals to be one of the all star caliber player. I am more on old school bigman like duncan, horford, monroe and hibbert there may be not that quick but they have low post moves unlike mc gee,

  19. FACE THE FACTS says:

    NBA.com, your over and over the same commercials in videos going on my nerves!

  20. Paul says:

    Javale has HATERS? Look I get it that Lebron or Kobe have haters, but there’s nothing to hate in Mcgee. He’s a fun personality and I think that we all wish him well. If he gets the strength and limits his stupid plays, then he might even become an all-star. Not kidding.

  21. Lloyd says:

    McGee will play for Philippines in the World Cup next. Many will be surprised to see him excel on Coach Chot’s system.
    That’s my dream. hope it will come true.

  22. J says:

    future star? I say maybe

  23. Adam says:

    Javale we know you arent stupid just stop Shaqtin a fool and be clumsy

  24. natan says:

    he is clumsy

  25. AnnoYouLater says:

    he is not that bad…but he did pretty stupid plays when he was still a Wizard…and now people expect something stupid from him everytime he’s on the court..even the slightest thing will be considered as a stupid play when he do it..

    • Kei says:

      Right on. he was on a bad basketball IQ team in washington with blatche and young but I think he mature quite well under George Karl. Let see if Shaw can keep him under control.
      Shaq was beating an old horse with Mcgee. I remember one of video from shaq’t a fool this year was Mcgee just couldn’t catch/lose the ball. Big freakin’ deal!

    • ranfan12 says:

      I believe that he’s still going to end up on shaqtin the fool even he he starts averaging 18 and 10 lol

  26. Javale just needs to work on his strength and he’ll be a pretty solid player

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      Not at all.
      If Javale just worked on his strength then he would just be a taller, longer Blake
      Griffin …
      Javale needs to go to Olajuwon’s big man camp and work on that hook shot and develop some much needed post moves and defensive footwork. Then you will see his true potential…

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      JaVale needs to do more than work on his strength, he needs help from Olajuwon to work on his post moves and defensive footwork. Then you will see McGee reach his full potential and become one of the best big men in the league