12 months ago it looked like the career of JaVale McGee was turning for the worst. He had been on a downward spiral in his career after only playing 34 games for the Dallas Mavericks and had previously bounced around on teams like the Sixers, Denver, and Washington.
The Golden State Warriors brought him into training camp this past summer as he was a long shot to make the team and he has only impressed from that day forward. Bob Meyers, General Manager of the Golden State Warriors, was on with local San Fransisco Sports Radio station KNBR about how much of a surprise JaVale has been.
“With JaVale, if you had told me at the start of the year that he’s going to start in the Western Conference Finals, and score 16 points, even us, and I’m being honest, no way did we think that.”
He later added how the addition of McGee has blended well with the other two big men additions of Zaza Pachulia and David West.
“If it’s our team, you’d say, well, they’re very disparate these guys. You look at Zaza, David and JaVale — completely different games. Now Zaza and David resemble each other a little bit, but even David is much more comfortable from 15-18 feet. You don’t see Zaza shooting that shot a lot, and JaVale is an outlier with what everybody loves to watch him do. Some guys in the NBA can do all those three things, and those are the guys that make a ton of money, but we don’t have a ton of money to spend, because we spent it elsewhere. So you try to piece it together.”
JaVale McGee can be a difference maker for the Warriors versus a very athletic team like the Cavaliers, the team they will be rematching in the Finals. McGee took over for an injured Zaza Pachulia in Game 3 and contributed 16 points and 13 rebounds in Game 3.
Now, he did not have much of a role for them in their series-clinching Game 4, but he will have a role in the Finals. JaVale McGee has been having his best playoff numbers when it comes to advanced statistics. This postseason McGee has had some pretty eye-opening statistics when he is on the floor. He is shooting 74% from the field during the playoffs. He has an offensive rating of 134 per 100 possessions and a defensive rating of 99 per 100 possessions. Per 36 minutes, he is averaging 24.0 ppg and 10.9 rebounds. You could say he is taking advantage of his limited minutes this postseason.
(Statistics from Basketball Reference)
The Warriors will want to play plenty of small ball in the Finals, but JaVale McGee will be able to come in and play that pick and roll game with Curry and roll to the basket as a lob option. It makes a guy like McGee’s role easier when the Warriors have other slower options at the center position because he can come in against a player that he matches up well against.
On the flip side though, Pachulia’s health is a big concern because McGee has been better in spot minutes for the Warriors. It is tough to rely on a guy like him for 25-30 minutes a game, but if he is able to find a role where he makes an impact for 8-10 minutes a game, that can be the difference maker in a Finals game.
The Warriors will be playing small a good amount of the time with Draymond at the five. Rebounding will lack if the Cavaliers just stick with their lineup and don’t go small with the Warriors.
JaVale Mcgee’s minutes will be limited for the Warriors but his role in the three big man rotation will be important. It will be even more important if Zaza Pachulia’s health is still a concern.