With Brendan Haywood's injury and recovery from wrist surgery prolonged, Washington has called on rookie giant Javale McGee.
McGee's father was a second-round draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers in 1985 and his mother was a star in the world of the WNBA so his professional basketball roots aren't exactly concealed.
Bred by accomplished athletes, the seven-foot skyscraper-of-a prospect, has ventured off, looking to make his own way and own splash in the pool organized basketball.
At Nevada, McGee averaged 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. The slinky apparent center also displayed pockets of range, shooting a little over 33% from long distance. In addition, he managed to rack up a Nevada sophomore record 92 blocks, previously set by Nick Fazekas.
Unfortunately, Fazekas hasn't found post-Nevada success and is currently fighting to stay in the league, attending the Nuggets camp via invite. A variety of spectators believed that Javale was unprepared and needed at least one more year to fully ripen. However, disregarding their thoughts McGee declared eligible himself for the June draft and attracted extensive criticism because of his choice.
Luckily his gamble paid off and was a Top 20 pick, settling in drizzle-healthy D.C. as the 18th overall pick.
In his first preseason game with the Washington Wizards, McGee produced 20 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks in his preseason debut, an example of his athleticism and unmistakable ability to learn an a NBA offense. In his second game, Javale scored eight points and had six of the Wizards' nine team rebounds.
Overall, an impressive display from a player deemed immature before the draft. Leading Washington in blocked shots and rebounds during the exhibition portion of the NBA season, Javale will have a surplus of opportunities since fallen oaf Brendan Haywood had surgery because of a broken wrist.
Though this will be Javale's rookie season and every first-year player reaches conflict, he has a few advantages on his side.
One of them being the fact that there are only three starting centers in the Eastern Conference that stand seven feet tall—Zydrunas Illgauskus, Mark Blount, and Andrew Bogut and none of them have the mobility nor the length of McGee. Only 11-year veteran Mark Blount joins McGee in the Eastern Conference.
While his hunger and will to play have been questioned, Javale has shown he belongs in this elite group of towering centers.
Engraved with shavings of potential, McGee's responsibility as the Wizards' warrior down the wayside will be the most important of his young basketball career.