As we continue along our #NuggetsRank countdown we arrive at a player whose combination of past performance, inconsistency and potential makes him very difficult to evaluate. When combining all those factors, JaVale McGee was voted as the fifth best player on the Denver Nuggets.
It is important to keep in mind that the votes were tabulated during the off-season when the last time we heard or saw anything of McGee he had posted two fantastic playoff performances against the Lakers, signed a nice four year, $44 million contract and was spending time with one of the most physically gifted and fundamentally sound big men of all time, Hakeem Olajuwon.
It sure seemed like McGee was on his way up.
Fast forward to today and McGee is struggling in the preseason averaging less than eight points and well under four rebounds in 17.8 minutes in Denver’s five contests so far. McGee has not hit his stride as a shot blocker, tallying only two so far, is shooting 43.9% from the floor and has yet to record an assist. To make things worse, McGee has certainly been outplayed by Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov.
Certainly it is unfair to rush to judgment over five preseason games and a paltry 89 minutes of floor time. With McGee’s previous struggles and reputation any slippage in progress will be viewed with greater consternation than with other players on the roster.
With the Nuggets final two preseason games on national television starting Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers Nuggets fans will be able to catch a glimpse of McGee’s current standing. Were stellar performances in the playoffs merely a fluke? Did his big contract go to his head? Is he just starting slow? Is he simply working on the skills that he learned this summer resulting in some growing pains on the road to mastering the footwork and tactics necessary to be a consistent post scorer?
Anyone who claims to know exactly what the Nuggets will get from JaVale McGgee this season is treading dangerous ground. McGee could certainly prove his #NuggetsRank position of number five to be accurate as he ends up moving into the starting lineup, displaying an improved post game and patrolling the paint on defense. Of course, McGee is just as likely to struggle to live up to his new contract and be the highest paid third string center in the league. Few players who have been in the league for four full seasons have such a wide range of possible outcomes for their fifth campaign.
At this point in his career McGee should be benefiting from the more stable environment that Denver supplies. While he will most likely not be as consistent as his other teammates who man the pivot, his explosiveness and potential should shine through often enough to show his ranking here.