67RIEFNS No. 34: JaVale McGee doing JaVale McGee things


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

JaVale McGee played just five games last year after injuring his leg.

How did we survive the rest of the season?

McGee is the most entertaining player in the NBA.

He’s 7 foot and insanely athletic, capable of creating spectacular highlights. But those positive plays interest me only so much.

It’s McGee’s signature brain-dead moments that really capture the imagination. He can screw up plays in ways others could only dream of. I mean, just look at these gaffes:

What’s your favorite?

I have a soft spot for this play – only because I was there and McGee offered the following non-apology afterward:

“Apparently if you get a fast break and throw it off the backboard in the third quarter and you’re 1-11, you’re not supposed to do stuff like that,” McGee said.

But this is my all-time favorite:

Just look at John Wall’s reaction. The Wizards had to get McGee out of town before he ruined the former No. 1 pick.

Thankfully, they couldn’t run McGee out of the league. He’s getting healthier and will hopefully return to the lineup soon.

I can’t wait.

JaVale McGee says he feels “good,” but Brian Shaw won’t guarantee playing time


JaVale McGee played in just five games for the Denver Nuggets last season after suffering a stress fracture in his left tibia. He made his return this week in a preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers, and says he feels “good” so far in training camp, but the high-flying, eccentric center doesn’t seem to be on the fast track to getting minutes anytime soon.

Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw says he isn’t going to re-insert McGee into the rotation until his conditioning is back where it needs to be. From Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post:

“I’m not waiting on anybody,” Shaw said. “So, the depth chart, for instance…at the center position right now is (Timofey Mozgov), (Jusuf) Nurkic, and JaVale. JaVale is just starting to practice, he’s just getting on the floor and playing, and Nurkic is ahead of him right now.

“So, when we start, if he hasn’t outplayed him or Timo or anybody who is in front of him by the time we start the regular season – and I don’t want to just judge him off of (Tuesday’s) performance because he’s been out for a year. But if he’s not there, if he’s not ready yet, as fast as he comes along we’ll move him that fast. As slow as he moves, in terms of passing guys up, that’s how slow he’ll come along.”

At this point, Mozgov is the clear-cut starting center for the Nuggets. Nurkic, the 19th overall pick in the 2014 draft, wasn’t expected to get much playing time but he has impressed in training camp. It says a lot about McGee’s conditioning that a rookie is already ahead of him in the depth chart even though McGee suffered his injury almost a year ago.

The Nuggets don’t have many options when it comes to trading McGee, either. He’s making $11.2 million this season and $12 million next season. Between his health and conditioning, it’s going to be hard to trade a contract like that. So McGee might have to deal with being buried until he gets up to speed.

In the meantime, look for plenty of self-retweets and #JugLife photos on Instagram.

Chris Kaman suffers head laceration thanks to the teeth of Timofey Mozgov (VIDEO)


It doesn’t look like much, when Chris Kaman and Timofey Mozgov collided in the third quarter of Tuesday’s preseason contest between the Nuggets and Blazers.

But it was enough to require stitches, and the injury occurred in a somewhat gruesome fashion.

From Joe Freeman of The Oregonian:

While playing defense, Kaman backed into Mozgov in an effort to box him out as a Denver player attempted a shot from the perimeter. But as Kaman pushed Mozgov, the 7-foot-1 center toppled on Kaman’s back and chomped down on his head with his teeth.

“I went back pretty hard and I must’ve hit him in the chest,” Kaman said, retelling the story. “He kind of folded over and his teeth went down on my head.”

Kaman instantly cupped his head, felt a gash and blood. He was pulled from the game and taken to the locker room, where he was given three stitches. After the game, he was wearing a big bandage on his balding head, but said he felt “pretty good.”

“It happened so fast, I was like, ‘What the heck?” Kaman said. “I felt his teeth kind of crush me in and I was like, ‘Crap, I know I’m going to need some stitches.”


That’s obviously nowhere near as bad as an opponent’s teeth becoming lodged in your arm, but it had to have been fairly unpleasant nonetheless.

JaVale McGee finally ready to return for Nuggets


JaVale McGee, who suffered a stress fracture and played just five games last season, was lagging behind the Nuggets’ other injured players this preseason.

Finally, McGee will make his long-awaited return to the court.

Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post:

the Nuggets will get JaVale McGee back, either Wednesday against Portland or at Golden State on Friday.

The center has progressed to the point of taking part in full practices the last couple of times out, and he’s ready to get back on the court. He said the pain in his left tibia is down to a minimum, and he wants to get a game or two under his belt before the regular season begins.

McGee, who has had the added motivation of watching young center Jusuf Nurkic play well in his absence, will participate with a minute restriction, but he’ll play.

McGee started all five his games last year, a noted change after making zero starts the year prior. The Nuggets have invested heavily in McGee, and they want to see him work out.

Right now, he’s behind Timofey Mozgov and maybe even rookie Jusuf Nurkic. Denver has center depth, which should allow McGee to ease back into a bigger role.

If he returns to full health and better harnesses his physical talent, the Nuggets might actually be overstocked a center. Denver is a place to watch for trade possibilities.

But first things first, McGee has to play and then play well.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Sacramento Kings


Last season: After Kings fans and mayor Kevin Johnson banded together to save basketball in Sacramento, new owner Vivek Ranadive brought in a new coach (Mike Malone) and a new GM (Pete D’Alessandro) and signed DeMarcus Cousins to a four-year max extension. The Kings proceeded to have a season that looked a lot like their last several — a lot of losing. A midseason trade for Rudy Gay rejuvenated the veteran forward’s career after a disappointing stint in Toronto, but it didn’t do much for the win column. The Kings finished 28-54.

Signature highlight from last season: In the most disappointing announcement-turned-April Fool’s-joke in NBA history, Cousins did not actually record an R&B album under the name “Boogie Smooth.”

Key player changes: The Kings took sharpshooter Nik Stauskas with the No. 8 pick in the draft and parted ways with point guard Isaiah Thomas, who went to Phoenix. They replaced Thomas by giving Darren Collison a three-year, $16 million deal, and signed veterans Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins on the cheap.

Keys to the Kings’ season:

Which of the young wings will pan out? The Kings have drafted a shooting guard in the top 10 each of the last two years. Ben McLemore was inconsistent in his rookie season and Stauskas, while a great shooter, could take time to develop other aspects of his game. In order for the Kings to progress, at least one of them has to become a dependable starter.

Will Boogie make “the leap”? Cousins played for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer, and there was plenty of talk about his maturation as a leader. Plenty of players take gigantic leaps forward after playing in international competitions. Think Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Kevin Durant after the 2010 tournament. Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Kenneth Faried are expected to do the same this year, and so is Cousins. This Kings team is still rebuilding but it’s easier to do that when you have a superstar to build around.

What, exactly, is the plan here? This team is not untalented. Cousins is an All-Star-caliber player, Gay is a proven scorer, and Collison and Sessions are competent NBA point guards. Derrick Williams may still be salvageable, and second-year point guard Ray McCallum has some upside. What the Kings lack is cohesion, or any sense of what the direction of the franchise is. Obviously, Cousins is the building block, and they’d like to re-sign Gay if he keeps performing like he did after being traded to Sacramento. But other than that, so far it seems like a lot of just throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks.

Why you should watch the Kings: There’s a reasonable chance Cousins could go for 30 points and 15 rebounds or get himself ejected (or both!) on any given night.

Prediction: 27-55. The Kings play in a division with at least two and maybe three playoff teams and don’t have a lot of proven talent or a roster coherent enough to make them a playoff threat of any kind. But at least they won’t be as bad as the Lakers.