After John Wall went first overall to the Wizards in the NBA Draft, I planned on viewing as many summer league games as possible. I came away extremely impressed with Wall (who I had seen torch my Florida Gators while at Kentucky), but the other player who caught my eye was JaVale McGee. It seemed like McGee lived on ESPN’s top ten plays this summer, as he was constantly making big plays around, and above, the rim. After posting pedestrian numbers during the 2009-10 NBA season for the Wiz, (16 minutes, 6.4 points and 4 rebounds per game), McGee had a very impressive summer in Las Vegas, and earned himself a chance to try-out for Team USA. After being a young project for Team USA, injuries (Brook Lopez, David Lee) and rest by star players (Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh) opened up a spot at center for the FIBA Championship.
It wasn’t just McGee’s dunks that got him noticed by Coach K and Jerry Colangelo, but it was also his new body. A lanky center out of Nevada, McGee has finally added much-needed muscle mass this offseason, and appears to be getting more and more comfortable with the speed of the NBA game. McGee, now 22, has always been extremely athletic for someone his size (7’0″, 252 pounds), but he looked even more explosive this summer. Not only did JaVale dominate around the rim, but he looked more comfortable shooting jump shots as well. His offensive game could still use more variety (a hook-shot would be crucial thanks to his 7’6″ wingspan), but with Andray Blatche alongside him in the Wizards’ starting line-up, Washington will be tough to contain in the paint. The last aspect McGee must address is his defense and rebounding. This summer, he got plenty of rebounds by being physically superior to his competition, but he will need to work harder in the regular season to pull down double-digits boards.
JaVale McGee isn’t a household name for sports fans, NBA fans, or even Wizards fans for that matter. His claim to “fame” is being the first son of a former WNBA player to reach the NBA, being selected by Washington with the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. Now however, McGee looks set to be one of the final 12 players on Team USA’s 2010 FIBA Championship roster. JaVale probably won’t start, and he may not see much playing time while in Turkey with Team USA, but the experience he’ll gain in Turkey should only help him on his way to becoming the NBA’s most improved/breakout player in the NBA this upcoming season.
About the Author
Written by Robert Bode
A sports die-hard through and through. I grew up playing almost every sport possible, and to this day I try to stay as active as possible. However, since I'm not a professional athlete, talking and writing about sports is the next best thing. A University of Florida graduate but living in my hometown of Washington D.C. (well Northern Virginia), my favorite teams are the Florida Gators, Miami Dolphins, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Real Madrid, good up-tempo NBA teams (so not the Knicks), and Washington Capitals.