Of the many projects and prayers the Dallas Mavericks acquired in the offseason to make up for the crippling Indecision by DeAndre Jordan, adding the NBA’s favorite space cadet tops them all.
Signing JaVale McGee to the roster is a far greater blind dart throw than Deron Williams, Zaza Pachulia or the “future” center of this franchise, rookie Satnam Singh.
No team has searched this earth harder for a decent 7-footer more than the Mavs; if by some miracle McGee can return to the player he was with the Washington Wizards in 2010-’11, his addition will be the best this team has made since Tyson Chandler.
“There are a lot similarities (between McGee and Chandler) in terms of physical makeup and the style of their game,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle told me. “It’s been 15 or 16 months since he’s played and worked through his health situation. We have to be careful about unrealistic short term expectations. This is a big picture thing. He’s done very well if you consider all of the factors.”
There may not be a more confounding player in the NBA than McGee; he is tall, athletic, and is a plus rim protector. When it’s there, he’s dynamic. When it’s not there, he’s a giant bag of flakes. The trick has been to engage this player, not always a given for a guy whose play ranges between stupid to electric to apathetic.
Because of a variety injuries, and maybe a serious case of basketball apathy, McGee played just 23 games in each of the last two seasons. He is slowly working his way back to good health with the Mavs, but everything about McGee is sporadic.
McGee’s first game with the Mavs was Nov. 11 against Oklahoma City; he scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting with six rebounds in 11 minutes. The Mavs have played nine games since then, and McGee has been a DNP four times, including three of the last five.
This can be attributed to, right now, matchups and health. McGee is still not quite completely healthy from the leg injuries that slowed his career over the last two years.
“He’s doing well. It’s been a long process starting in the summer. It’s tedious for him. There are limits still. Back to backs are a little bit up in the air as to when he can start,” Carlisle said. “We’ve just got to keep easing him into a little more each day. ... I do believe he can enhance our team with ability to protect the rim, rebound, run and be a threat at the basket.”
No one on the Mavs thought when they acquired McGee as a free agent he could be their starter any time soon, but fingers were crossed in the hopes he could be a viable backup. And then maybe a prayer was said to ask he could be an upgrade over Pachulia.
McGee has more talent than Zaza, but is not the player. McGee has a tendency to try to block every shot rather than just stay home and protect the basket, offensively he is prone to jack up stupid shots, and then there is a matter of health.
At 27, McGee, who is a former top-20 draft pick, is coming into his prime years of his NBA life. If it’s ever going to happen for him, chances are good it’s right now.