Takeaway quotes from the Drew & Scott interview with Masai Ujiri

Yesterday, Drew Goodman and Scott Hastings of Drew & Scott on Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan had an extensive interview with Nuggets executive Masai Ujiri, who was in Houston, where JaVale McGee is currently training with Hakeem Olajuwon. (On Twitter, please follow Drew here: @ROOTSPORTS_DG, and Scott here: @ScottHastings). They talked about the Andre Iguodala trade and The Dream’s work with McGee and Kenneth Faried.

Before reading further, please be sure to listen to their original broadcast here, as the transcribed quotes below are  only a fraction of of their discussion, and of course in writing much of the personal feel of the conveersation is lost. That said, in addition to listening to the interview, it does seem worthwhile to see some of what Ujiri said in writing, as he conveyed a lot of information rather quickly, and much of it is worth a closer look.

Excerpts from Ujiri’s answers* in the interview are after the jump: (more…)

How JaVale McGee’s game changed after the trade, and what that may bode for his future

Sometimes, the grass really is greener.

When JaVale McGee was traded to the Denver Nuggets mid-season, the opportunity to escape from the highly dysfunctional atmosphere of the Washington Wizards organization and make a new start must truly have been a breath of fresh air.

One hardly need look further than former Wizards beat writer Jay Glassie’s scathing takedown of Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld to understand just how toxic the organizational environment was in Washington. Glassie, who actually quit covering the Wizards because he had gotten so fed up, goes into great detail explaining what he call the “incredible losing culture” of that organization. Many NBA fans are familiar with the headline-making incidents from that time period, most infamously when Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton reportedly pulled guns on each other in the locker room in December 2009, but behavioral and PR issues weren’t the only problems going on there. Those seeped deeply into basketball territory as well.

And for a young, raw, immature player in need of structure, discipline and veteran leadership, this clearly was infertile soil to be rooted in. McGee at one point asked Grunfeld “for a big man coach, and Grunfeld said he could have one if he paid for it himself”. It’s stunning that Washington would spurn cultivating one their most prized young assets, turning their backs on the opportunity to develop his game and facilitate his ambition to improve.

In vivid contrast, the Nuggets have (more…)

The other side of the coin

Yesterday my wonderful colleague Jeremy detailed the Nuggets 2011-12 season outlook in a post titled, How Good Can the Denver Nuggets Be? In it he expressed his concern over how this year’s team would play without a “chip” on its shoulder, without enough good defensive players in addition to how the Nuggets would be affected by losing Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler to the Chinese Basketball Association. In the end Jeremy stated, “For Nuggets fans who could not stomach the thought of rebuilding, you got your wish. They will be a playoff team for the foreseeable future, but I fear that is all they will be.” Though this may be true, I’m here to tell you why that may not be such a bad thing after all.  (more…)