After a 29-point blowout against the Portland Blazers last night, the Warriors are currently in a 2-0 lead in the first of the playoff series. Comparing to the other two games in the same day where Rockets took a W over the Thunder by only four points and the Wizards beat the Hawks by eight, this game was much less exciting when the Blazers gave up quickly, shortly after the start of the fourth quarter. With Kevin Durant sitting the game out and the splash brother only shooting 7/20 from the three-point line, JaVale McGee became the X factor of this overwhelming victory. He scored 15 points in only 13 minutes, shot a 100 percentage from the field, and took 5 rebounds as well as 4 blocks. Suddenly, everybody is talking about JaVale McGee. And this time, it has nothing to do with Shaqtin’ A Fool. As people can see, McGee is slowly becoming one of the most important pieces of the Warriors’ lineup.
The fact is that JaVale McGee already played very decent basketball during the regular season, but nobody cared to mention him until the sudden explosion from last night’s game. During the regular season, McGee already played with extremely high efficiency. Despite the fact that he only played 9.6 minutes per game, which is the lowest of his career, he managed to shoot 65.2 percent from the field, which is the highest of his career; at the defensive end, he contributed 0.87 blocks per game; he also played at an efficiency rating (PER) of 25.3, which is the second highest on the team only after Kevin Durant’s 27.7.
The most obvious issue that the Warriors suffered from this season was the lack of both offensive and defensive power in the post. Zaza Pachulia, the starting center of the team, only contributed 6.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 18.1 minutes of on-court time per game. To become the perfect team, the Warriors still need an A-level big man. And in my opinion, McGee could potentially be the candidate. Except for the high efficiency he put up every night, JaVale McGee’s physical capability is one of the best among NBA centers. He is fast for a 7 footer, which makes him perfect for the Warriors’ style. Last night’s game was a proof, during which he participated in at least three fast breaks. He also has incredible vertical range, which can potentially be the solution of the Warriors’ rebounding problem if he is granted more time.
People would argue that McGee is not a reliable defensive player, and he has no idea how to share the ball, which is crucial for the Warriors’ offensive system. But players develop overtime. For example, back when Draymond Green was just drafted by the Warriors, he was not considered to be an excellent passer. And indeed, he only contributed averagely 0.7 assists per game in the first season and 1.9 in the second. It wasn’t until 15-16 season during which his assists bumped up abruptly to 7.4 per game. McGee is 29-years-old, which means he still has time to change his style of play for better.
Therefore, instead of looking for a big man to sign during the summer, keeping JaVale McGee in the poster could be an alternative for the problem. Although it was only one game, and McGee still has a lot to prove, his potential to be the last piece of puzzle for the Warriors to become a perfect NBA team cannot go unnoticed anymore.