JaVale McGee has been traded to the Denver Nuggets in a three-team deal that sent Nick Young to the Los Angeles Clippers and Nene Hilario to the Washington Wizards. McGee is the player who will benefit most from the trade, and he will flourish in Denver.
McGee is a seven-foot center who is very talented. However, he’s had some attitude issues on and off the court in Washington, which is one of the reasons this trade will help his career. Being around a coach like George Karl and the Nugget teammates he will have should do wonders for his maturity and professionalism.
If it doesn’t, then he’ll get moved again.
George Karl is probably the most underrated coach in the NBA. A former player for the San Antonio Spurs back in the 1970s, Karl has coached five NBA teams including the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Seattle Supersonics, Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets.
He has coached in the NBA All-Star Game four times and has won 1,036 games as a head coach in the NBA. During his tenure in Denver, which has been since 2005, the Nuggets have never had a losing record, made the playoffs every year and never finished lower than second in their division.
An extremely well-respected guy around the league, Karl also knows how to handle superstar egos—even ones that are generally problem children.
The Nuggets team as it was at the start of the 2011 season was full of players with histories of immaturity including Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith. Allen Iverson was even in that mix for a while and Karl made it work.
McGee is going to be coached by the best coach he’s ever had so far in his short career. It will show. He’ll be more focused on playing well and getting better, and his stats will improve.
It didn’t help McGee that he was surrounded by guys just as young and immature as he is in Washington. That’s all gone now. Now, he’s playing with Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, Aaron Afflalo, Andre Miller and more.
These guys go to the playoffs every season. These guys are used to success and expect it. They play an up-tempo, high-energy brand of offensive basketball that is so balanced it makes them one of the most difficult teams to stop in the NBA.
There is no selfishness in Denver because there is no time for it. The team and Coach Karl are focused on getting better as a squad and winning. Not their own stats.
McGee will benefit from such an environment. He’ll learn how to play real professional basketball and realize that he’s never really done that yet.
There is no questioning McGee’s talent. Even for Washington, the young big man put up impressive numbers. He averaged 11.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Those numbers are very comparable to those of Nene in Denver (13.4 points, 7.4 rebounds).
In fact, McGee’s player efficiency rating of 19.83 is better than that of Nene (16.85). He’s also a better defensive presence in the paint, considering his blocks, and has the potential to become one of the best defensive centers in the league.
McGee is extremely athletic as well, much more so than Nene or any other big man that Denver has. He’s a high-flyer who will learn through time how best to channel his abilities into playing better basketball.
This move is great for Javale McGee. He’s going to a much better environment, where he’ll hopefully learn how to play professionally and play better. He’s definitely a talent with great potential and that could be used to do great things in Denver.