Tag: Zaza Pachulia

JaVale McGee

JaVale McGee says he’s close to healthy, will be ready for season


JaVale McGee has battled a stress fracture and other leg injuries for a couple of seasons now — he has played just 28 games over two years. When he has gotten on the court, he has not been near the same athletic — and entertaining — player.

Which leads to the biggest question about McGee with the Dallas Mavericks for this coming season: Will he be healthy enough to contribute? Or even make the roster?

McGee told Mavs.com he would be, and that part of the reason he chose to sign with Dallas in the first place was the training staff.

“That was one of the major things about (signing with the Mavericks),” McGee confessed. “With how good the training staff is and all the training materials that they have and other teams don’t have, it’s definitely a good thing.

“I’m definitely getting back to that elite level. The injuries really slowed me down, so I’m definitely going to get 100 percent healthy and come out and give it my all.”

He’s going to need to be 100 percent and show that old form to make the team. Dallas has ZaZa Pachulia, Samuel Dalembert and Salah Mejri all on the roster with guaranteed contracts to play center next season.

Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of those — that McGee would make this roster despite the depth at the five. I hope he makes it, the league is more fun with him in it.

This is a low-risk move for Dallas — McGee agreed to a two-year deal at the veteran minimum (team option in the second year), he doesn’t cost much if he proves to be healthy. If he’s not that McGee, it costs $500,000 to let him go before the season starts (half that if they dump him before training camp even opens).

Bucks GM touts Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ability to play center

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Bucks coach Jason Kidd kicked around the idea of playing Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard last year, though didn’t really go anywhere beyond the preseason. Antetokounmpo spent most of his minutes on the wing.

He could reach the other end of the positional spectrum this season.

Milwaukee general manager John Hammond on The Baseline NBA Podcast (hat tip: Frank Madden of Brew Hoop):

I love the thought of small-ball for us. Potentially, if there’s ever a matchup situation where you say “OK, they’re going to go small, how do we match up with that”” whoever that team may be, I think you play Giannis Antetokounmpo at center. And he’s 6-foot-11, so it’s not really small-ball per se, but his ball skills and know-how of how to play will give us the ability to do that. And I think that could be a really fun team to watch someday if you do look at small-ball theory.

Antetokounmpo played 98% of his minutes last season with at least one teammate – Zaza Pachulia, Larry Sanders, John Henson, Johnny O’Bryant, Miles Plumlee, Kenyon Martin, Ersan Ilyasova – who was clearly more of a center than him. Even in the other 2%, Antetokounmpo didn’t handle center responsibilities clearly more frequently than players like Jared Dudley and Jabari Parker.

So, this would be a big shift for the third-year player.

But Antetokounmpo has the tools to make it work. He has tremendous length and good shot-blocking timing. The Bucks like to switch and trap, so he wouldn’t have to defend like a traditional center, either. Offensively, he could pull opposing bigs all the way to the 3-point arc and slash and dish against a strained defense.

Antetokounmpo doesn’t have the bulk to play center over long stretches, but against the right opponents, he could do it. As the league gets smaller, it’s a nice option for Milwaukee.

And it’s darn sure exciting to watch a player who can legitimately play any position 1-5.

What NBA stars will suit up for EuroBasket? Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others

pau gasol spain olympics

EuroBasket matters — it offers both the bragging rights of a European championship and is the 2016 Olympic qualifier for Europe. The top two finishers get their tickets punched for Rio for the 2016 games (the USA and Brazil have already qualified). Finishers three through seven get invited to the 2016 pre-Olympics qualifying tournament, where they can try to play their way into the final field of 12 (likely a couple of them succeed).

Because it matters, some of the NBA’s big names will suit up when play tips off Sept. 5 —  Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others. There are 29 players under NBA contract in total expected to participate. Mark Cuban and many NBA GMs will watch clutching their lucky blanket and hoping against injury, but this is the kind of tournament that draws stars.

If you’ve wondered who is going, here’s a list of every NBA player suiting up in EuroBasket, hat tip to Hoopshype.

Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets)
Mario Hezonja (Orlando Magic)
Damjan Rudez (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Alexis Ajinca (New Orleans Pelicans)
Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets)
Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs)
Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic)
Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Joffrey Lauvergne (Denver Nuggets)
Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)

Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Tibor Pleiss (Utah Jazz)
Dennis Schroeder (Atlanta Hawks)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kosta Koufos (Sacramento Kings)
Kostas Papanikolaou (Denver Nuggets)

Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn Nets)
Marco Belinelli (Sacramento Kings)
Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets)

Omri Casspi (Sacramento Kings)

Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors)

Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards)

Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks)

Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls)
Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls)

Furkan Aldemir (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ersan Ilyasova (Detroit Pistons)

Alex Len (Phoenix Suns)