Almost two months into this NBA season, it has become exceedingly clear just how important the Denver Nuggets bench has been to the team’s relative success. The starting lineup has frequently struggled, especially in first quarters, and the second unit has come to their rescue all too often.
In my recent post on Wilson Chandler, I compared his net efficiency with that of Timofey Mozgov, suggesting that Timo was, and Wilson wasn’t making a big impact. In the comments section, a Roundball Mining Company reader correctly pointed out that it might not be fair to compare a starter with a bench player, given the discrepancy in the caliber of players they’re going up against.
During his days on the Washington Wizards, JaVale McGee became tragi-comically famous among NBA fans, known much better for his gaffe-packed blooper reels on YouTube than for the actual quality of basketball player he was. With frequent assists from Shaquille O’Neal’s “Shaqtin’ a Fool” segment on TNT, and the spread of the “That’s so JaVale!” meme, McGee’s many bizarre, head scratching blunders went viral, and the “knucklehead” label stuck so hard that he’s still trying to shake it off.
But he is in fact making progress, and many around the league – including Shaq – are starting to take notice that there’s more to JaVale than just being the NBA’s court jester.
Which is not to say he’s all the way there yet. He continues to be (more…)