JaVale McGee's career appeared to be headed for uncertainty when the Washington Wizards opted to exchange him for the much older Nene.
If a rebuilding team is willing to part with an athletic, 24-year-old seven-footer, there must be something seriously wrong with the guy.
Well, not exactly. McGee made his share of boneheaded plays as a youngster with the Wizards, but the Denver Nuggets knew better than to write the guy off. With his best years still ahead of him, a little patience and grooming could go a long way.
In fact, the Nuggets believe in this guy so much that they re-signed him to a four-year, $44 million deal this summer.
If he's not worth it right now, chances are he will be.
"No question, I see him as another star," Olajuwon said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. "That guy should dominate the league.
"He has tremendous talent. I give him all these moves and he can finish and he's already skilled. So now just show him how to use that skill to (get) to the next level."
So, is JaVale McGee on his way to becoming the next Hakeem "The Dream"?
Maybe not. But, at least he's learning from one of the best.
Olajuwon regularly embarrassed even some of the league's best centers, including division rival David Robinson and his San Antonio Spurs. He brought a measure of skill and finesse to the position that few big men could even imagine matching.
His moves in the post reflected uncanny agility—the kind of quickness and mobility you'd expect to see from a guard rather than a seven-footer.
He mixed up an endless arsenal of fakes, up-and-unders, spins and fall-aways to get a clean look at the basket. From there, his soft hands did the rest.
Since retiring in 2002, the native of Nigeria has worked with the likes of Dwight Howard, LeBron James and even Kobe Bryant. If an improved post-game is your objective, Olajuwon is the man to talk to.
McGee is already one of the most explosive big men in the game, and he's an absolute beast in the open court.
His ability to play with his back to basket is another story, at least for now.
Consequently, McGee's offensive performance has been uneven. He put up 16 points and 15 rebounds in a Game 3 win against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Two games later, he tacked on a 21-point, 14-rebound performance. In the other five games of the series, he combined for just 23 points total. When the tempo didn't favor his style of play, McGee found himself relatively helpless to make an impact.
That could change after some time with Olajuwon.
McGee's footwork in the paint needs help, and no one is more apt to do the job than Hakeem. Hopefully The Dream's patience will rub off as well, curing McGee of his frantic tendencies in the painted area.
We all know Denver's up-and-coming center can rebound and play some defense. When playing over 27 minutes per game with Washington, he always averaged eight or more boards and around two-and-a-half blocks per contest.
The remaining hurdle is becoming a consistent scorer with a diversified repertoire.
We should see some signs of McGee doing just that this season, but he could be downright unstoppable given another year or two of development.
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