JaVale McGee can throw it down. He and John Wall showed a connection during Summer League because Wall likes to run and throw ally-oops and McGee loves to run and catch ally-oops.
But Wizards coach Flip Saunders knows a little secret — you can’t get out and run if somebody doesn’t grab the defensive rebound.
Okay, not much of a secret. But with Andray Blatche sitting out the start of the season McGee was expected to start at the five so he could run with Wall. But Saunders told Michael Lee of the Washington Post there needs to be more.
“Hilton Armstrong’s had a really solid camp,” [Saunders] said. “He’s actually played better than JaVale has through camp right now. We’ve got to get JaVale defensive rebounding right now. With him, we need more substance than style. He has a tendency – he’s always been a style guy, and we got to get some substance out of that position.”
When asked if Armstrong would be the starter, Saunders said, “That’s what preseason is going to do. I don’t decide who is going to play, the players tell me.”
McGee said he has made a concerted effort to get better with defensive rebounding. “I feel like I’m doing better. I’m boxing out, trying to find bodies. If I’m not getting the rebound, I’m just making sure my man is not getting the rebound. That’s what I’m trying to do,” McGee said. “I just don’t want anything for them to be like, ‘Oh, he’s not doing this. He’s not doing that.’ I’m doing every thing they say and try to throw my little stuff in, as long as I’m doing what they want me to do.”
This may be more words than substance — get the player to do what you want by talking to the media and embarrassing him. Phil Jackson coaching 101. McGee’s defensive rebounding numbers are not that bad (he grabbed 18.7 percent of the available defensive boards when he was on the floor last season).
The fact remains that McGee is a better player than Armstrong right now and a better fit with what the Wizards want to do. If McGee doesn’t start, he will have played his way out of the job.