The Denver Nuggets’ actions on the night of the 2013 NBA Draft spoke loudly that they are ready to rely on JaVale McGee as their starting center in the upcoming season. On draft night, the Nuggets traded away Kosta Koufos, their starting center from last season, in exchange for power forward Darrell Arthur, leaving McGee the opportunity to slide into the starting job.
Though McGee played limited minutes as a reserve last season, he was quite productive in his time on the floor. In 79 games he averaged 9.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and two blocks per game while shooting a solid 57.5 percent from the floor, though he did struggle at the foul line, converting on just 59.1 percent of his attempts.
There are concerns about how McGee will perform in a role where he’s heavily relied on. McGee needs to show serious progress in his defensive abilities in terms of rotations and positioning and his offensive game is powerful and athletic, but has appeared limited over his career. However, McGee is confident in his abilities.
In a recent interview with Jeff Caplan of NBA.com’s Hang Time Blog, McGee said of his offense, “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 went on to say that former head coach George Karl discouraged his big men from shooting mid-range jumpers and that’s one of the reasons why he shied away from that part of his game.
In the limited sample size of mid-range jumpers that McGee put up last season, he showed no sign of having a real mid-range game. He took 137 shot attempts from between five and 19 feet last season, but shot only 27.7 percent on those attempts. That’s not exactly what I would call “having a mid-range shot.”
If McGee wants to prove himself worthy of being relied on as Denver’s starting center, he needs to focus more on further developing his post-game and worked on becoming a better overall defender while dispelling any notions that he has about having a mid-range jumper. Maybe if he proves himself, then he can start flashing that shot. As for now, he has bigger issues to worry about.