JaVale McGee is a smart guy.
He also just does some stupid things on the basketball court. Ones that Shaq mocked on Inside the NBA, decisions big and small that had former coach George Karl limiting his minutes.
All that could change this season. Part of Karl’s surprise exit from Denver was a disagreement about who should play how much — the Nuggets management wanted more minutes for their young stars like McGee.
Now with Brian Shaw at the helm, expect a lot more McGee in Denver — and McGee himself is pretty pumped about that, he told Jeff Caplan of NBA.com in a rare interview where McGee is really open about himself.
“I’m definitely getting that feeling from the coaches that I’m going to be more of an impact and getting more minutes,” said McGee, who enters his sixth NBA season and second full season in Denver after 3 ½ oddball years with Washington. “It’s really up to the coach as to how he wants to use me. It’s up to me to work and everything, and I’m going to do that. So if I work hard and I come prepared and in shape for training camp, there’s nothing that can stop me but the coach….
“I definitely have post moves. I have a mid-range shot that I really never got to use my whole career in the NBA,” McGee said. “Coach Karl didn’t want his ‘bigs’ shootings at all. [Defenses are] probably going to leave me open for the mid-range, so I definitely got to take that shot.”
The other thing McGee does well is run the court as a big man and finish in transition. Shaw has promised to keep up the tempo in Denver (and with their personnel he should). McGee is the most athletic big in the game today, it’s just a question of how he uses it.
As for what you, or Shaquille O’Neal, or Charles Barkley think about McGee, he doesn’t really care. He is having fun on social media, he’s trying to be positive, and he is comfortable with who he is and doesn’t really care what you think.
“People around the NBA really think that I’m dumb or stupid,” McGee said. “But people that know me know that I’m actually very intelligent. It doesn’t affect me at all.”
He’s going to get the minutes, the chance to change that perception this season. We’ll see what he does with it.