Potential has become one of the most overused terms in professional sports. We hear it all the time when experts and fans alike are talking about young players who are joining the professional ranks then show flashes of greatness. Sometimes it can be fun to watch these athletes blossom into the stars we’ve ordained them to become; or it can be painful to watch them fall short. The National Basketball Association has a number of players that fit into this category and few have been tougher to watch than JaVale McGee.
At 24 years of age, to say that McGee is an interesting player would be an understatement. Not only is he the son of a former NBA player George Montgomery, but his mother Pamela McGee was a WNBA star as well making JaVale the first son of a WNBA player to make it to the NBA. With genetics like that in his veins it’s no wonder why so many people are expecting great things from JaVale at some point. NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon stated that he believes McGee "should dominate the league," when he was asked earlier this year.
JaVale’s stat line at this point in his career leaves much to be desired. McGee’s career numbers hover around 8.8 points a game and just over 5 rebounds; which is well below expectations for someone of his ability. His 10.8 points per game is 19th while his 5.3 rebounds per game is ranked 30th among qualified centers. On the other side of the coin his player efficiency rating has him listed among some of the most productive big men on the court this year.
McGee is a perfect fit for the up-tempo basketball that the Denver Nuggets play and perhaps this is what convinced the team executives to sign him to a 4 year $44 million dollar deal this past summer. The question is whether or not they will get their money’s worth because in order for the Nuggets to be successful in the long run, they will need more production from their center who averages nearly 20 minutes a game. He’s been productive on the defensive end of the court with 2 blocks per game, but he will still have to help this team in other areas. It’s not as if the opportunity isn’t there; the Nuggets are the 8th best scoring team at this point of the season while bringing down the 5th most rebounds per game as well. With the number of offensive threats that surround him, McGee should be a better fit into this lineup that we have seen at this point in the year.
While we have grown accustomed to laughing at JaVale McGee’s features on “Shaq-ting A Fool” or YouTube highlights, there’s still the potential to believe that he will grow into the star big man that some have expected him to become. Until that time, we can only wonder if the Denver Nuggets will regret their massive commitment.