Sunday, March 30, 2008

Prospect Profile: JaVale McGee

With the likely departure of Patrick O'Bryant due to the questionable decision not to pick up his option, the Golden State Warriors might turn to the draft for a player that could eventually help Biedrins hold down the fort. High on the list among all centers in terms of potential is Sophomore sensation, JaVale McGee. At 7'-0" and with a tremendous wingspan, he is surprisingly agile for a player his size. As you can see from video highlights of his game, he has the range on his shot, the ability to put the ball on the floor, and finish emphatically in crowds. He's a great shot blocker with 2.8 blocks/game. Due to his status as a project and the slow development of recent draft picks such as O'Bryant and Saer Sene, McGee's stock might fall far enough (if he decides to come out this year) to where Chris Mullin will have the option to draft him for the Warriors. At the 20 range, his upside might be too big too pass up. What remains to be seen is whether Mullin and company have the patience to develop this intriguing prospect loaded with potential and with a more aggressive mindset than that of Patrick O'Bryant.



Birthday: 1/19/1988
NBA Postion: Center
Class: Sophomore
Ht: 7-0
Wt: 237
College Team: Nevada
Hometown: Flint, MI
High School: Hales Franciscan

NBA Comparison: Andrew Bynum/Patrick OBryant

Strengths: Long athletic bigman who is absolutely bursting with potential ... Runs the floor exceptionally well ... Improving at a rapid pace on both ends of the floor. Has freakishly long arms: around a 7-6 wingspan which makes him a great rebounder and shot blocker ... Can really become a force defensively when he adds strength and discipline on opponent's shot fakes ... His length makes it extremely difficult for opponents to get shots over ... His offensive game is showing a lot of promise with developing back to the basket skills. He even shows some ability to face the basket and make drives or spot up ... Has a competitive spirit that is not apparent in many bigmen who picked up the game because of their size. A late bloomer who went underrecruited out of Chicago. McGee's parents were both professional basketball players so he has been around the game from a young age ... Shows solid form and touch on his shot ... Has a tremendous frame which should allow him to get much stronger and retain his great agility and athleticism ... Gives great effort and shows very good stamina for a bigman his age ... Added strength will give him better balance and make him a lot more effective imposing his will inside ... Has the potential to be a top 5-10 center in the league someday (if he's patient about entering the NBA) ... Has even shown the ability to knock down shots from college 3, no question influenced by the presence of Nick Fazekas last year ...

Weaknesses: Still must gain maturity. He gets frustrated far too easily and loses his composure quickly when calls go against him, or when he's struggling ... Still growing into his body and game, learning what he's capable of and steadily becoming a factor night in and night out ... Needs to develop some go to moves. A reliable jump hook would make him an absolute force ... Must improve from the free throw line (50% wont cut it). He has solid shooting touch and should be able to raise his FT shooting to at least 70-75 percent over time if he develops a consistent routine and works at it ... Should be wary of leaving school early. It's likely he would be a first rounder this year, but a third year in college would really help him in the long run as he would be much better prepared for the NBA and not run the risk of losing confidence and falling short of his full potential ...Notes: JaVale's parents were both professional basketball players. His father, George Montgomery starred at Illinois and was a second-round draft pick in 1985 by the Portland Trailblazers. His mother Pamela McGee, and her twin sister, Paula, were All-Americans who led USC to NCAA National titles in 1983 and 1984 ... Pamela also played and coached in the WNBA and is now a high school coach in Sacramento ... In Javale's freshman season he saw little playing time playing behind WAC player of the year and NBA draft pick Nick Fazekas.

Aran Smith - 12/1/2007

from DraftExpress:

Nevada’s sophomore big men has made some huge strides from his innocuous 3 point, 2 rebound, 10 minute per game freshman season. Coach Mark Fox has him up to nearly 28 minutes per game this year now that Nick Fazekas is off to the NBA, and McGee has responded with an excellent 13.4 points, nearly 9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game.

In terms of pure upside, it’s difficult to find that many players in college basketball who are as intriguing as McGee. Standing 7-feet tall, with a pterodactyl wingspan, McGee is already in a class of his own in terms of his physical tools. He’s also an incredibly mobile player for his size, showing great fluidity and outstanding quickness, running the floor extremely well, and being super quick getting off his feet to finish around the basket or challenge shots.

More than just a physical marvel, McGee also drops some stunning glimpses of potential from time to time. He can palm the ball like a cantaloupe and swoop around the post to throw in a soft one-handed jumper off the glass, or use his outrageous extension to pull off some circus style dunks. His incredible reach also makes him an outstanding offensive rebounding threat, being able to just outreach everyone else on the floor and tip the ball to himself, sometimes to catch the ball and finish with a terrific put-back dunk, all in one fluid motion. It’s hard not to come away extremely impressed by some of the plays he makes from time to time, and you only wonder how good he might become if he can somehow learn to deliver them on a more consistent basis.

Offensively, McGee has nice touch around the hoop, and shows some glimpses of a jump-hook shot or a turnaround jumper. It all comes in very small doses, though, as he lacks the strength to establish (and hold) any real position for himself in the paint, and looks very uncomfortable banging in the post and trying to finish against opposition. His footwork is quite average, and he rushes his shots badly, lacking a great feel for how to set his man up and often preferring to fade away softly from contact rather than go up and finish strong. He’s particularly ineffective trying to finish moves from the left block, as his left hand is just non-existent and he makes a mess trying to force up difficult shots with his right.

Even though McGee has a hard time finding good shots for himself in the paint, he’s still somewhat of a black hole, as his 0.8 assists compared with 3.0 turnovers per game average might suggest. Once the ball go towards his direction, it’s very rarely going to come out, as he is more likely to just heave a bad shot up on the rim rather than survey the area using his height and maybe kick the ball out.

Despite being 7-feet tall, McGee looks pretty comfortable facing the basket, showing surprisingly good ball-handling skills putting the ball on the floor to create his own shot, and shooting range that extends all the way to the 3-point line. These are incredibly intriguing skills that could be developed into real weapons down the road, but for now, McGee has no idea what his limitations are seemingly, and sometimes does more harm than good with his forays out to the perimeter. His shot selection is poor, and he often overdoes things with his dribbling, making him a true feast or famine type of player who follows up one good play with one bad one. It doesn’t seem like he’s completely resolved to the fact that he’s 7-feet tall and not a guard, at least based off some of the moves he tries to execute at times. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that his basketball IQ is questionable, and he surely lacks a great deal of high level experience. He’s shooting only 50% from the field (pretty poor for a 7-footer), and just 59% from the charity stripe, which is usually a sign that he’d be best served working on his free throw shooting before he tries to impress with his 3-point stroke (where he is 4 for 16 so far on the year).

Defensively, McGee has game-changing potential thanks to his combination of size, length and athleticism. He also has pretty good timing on top of that, making him quite a force at times with his shot-blocking. He’s had three games this year for example with 6 blocks or more, and is averaging three per game on the season in under 28 minutes.

With that said, McGee has a long ways to go on this end of the floor as well, blocks and steals aside. His lack of strength is a hindrance when trying to deal with physically developed players, and he often gets pushed around in the paint with his obvious lack of bulk and toughness. McGee suffers from the same problem that a lot of young shot-blockers do—he gives up excessive space in the post thinking he’ll be able to compensate with his length and quickness to send the shot back as soon as it goes up. This is sometimes indeed the case, but at the next level it won’t be as easy, and he already has a tendency to bite on pump-fakes and get caught with his hand in the cookie jar. We’re often lacking a certain degree of activity from McGee, as he shows poor awareness on the defensive end and doesn’t always play as hard as one might hope. He gets outhustled occasionally going after rebounds, and doesn’t fight back at times when smaller players are pushing him around.

All in all, McGee is a superb prospect who is in dire need of a great deal of maturing and developing (and playing time) before he can even begin to think about the NBA. He could probably get drafted in the first round solely based off his potential, possibly this year already, but sitting on the bench for a few years is probably the worst possible thing you could wish upon a player like him. He reminds of somewhat of a mix between Brandan Wright and Patrick O’Bryant at this point in his career, but is obviously getting better day by day and still has a huge amount of upside left to tap into. It will be very interesting to see how he continues to develop.

from ESPN:

Draft Projection: Mid to late first round

Notes: McGee has declared for the 2008 NBA Draft and hired an agent, ending his college elibility.His father, George Montgomery, was drafted by the Blazersin the second round of the 1985 NBA Draft. His mother, Pamela McGee, played and coached in the WNBA.

Positives: Athletic big man with an excellent face the basket game. Long arms and explosive leaping ability make him an excellent shot-blocker and a good rebounder. Is developing a low-post game, but is still very raw. Has a reliable midrange jump shot and even some college 3-point range. Has the ability to create his own shot off the dribble. Good motor for a big man. Could be a 4 or a 5 in the league.

Negatives: Still developing, especially as a low-post player on the offensive end. Needs to add strength and weight, though it looks like he has the frame to do it. Poor free throw shooter.

Summary: Right now he's one of the biggest sleepers in the draft. He's still a year or two away from being ready for the NBA, but his improvement this season has been dramatic. He could go anywhere from the late lottery to late first round. Right now we have him somewhere in the middle, but with great workouts, he has the potential to crack the lottery. You aren't going to find many prospects with his combination of size, length, athleticism and basketball skills.

JaVale McGee Highlights

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