When the Denver Nuggets acquired JaVale McGee in a trade that sent veteran big man Nene to Washington it was a chance for the Nuggets to give the 7-foot center a trial period before they decide to offer him a long-term contract this summer.
McGee has a lot of attributes that make him an ideal keeper. He just turned 24, has a 7-6 wingspan and is one of the most athletic big man in the NBA. That alone is a big reason for the young big man to get a multi-year deal. In the right state of mind, McGee is an imposing force on the defensive side of the ball and in his short time in Denver it is apparent that he has an ability to be a game-changer on defense. He is second in the NBA in blocked shots, averaging 2.38 blocks a contest and during his seven games with the Nuggets he has blocked 19 shots.
Offensively, the main shot in his arsenal is a hook shot that still needs to be polished. He also has shown that he can score on pick and rolls, fast break, alley-oops and by attacking the offensive glass.
However, for all of his positive attributes there are numerous questions about his basketball IQ and decision-making. Defensively, he still gets lost in pick and rolls and is slow on rotations. He also picks up untimely goaltending calls and has been hampered by foul trouble during his young career.
McGee, who is a restricted free agent, will be one of the top free agents this offseason and the Nuggets must decide how much they are willing to offer the former Nevada star. Before the trade, there were talks that McGee was seeking a contract starting at around $14 million which seems a little pricey for a center who still struggles with in-game decisions.
Players that have McGee’s size and ability are destined to be paid. In fact, a number of big man that have had a comparable season collected on contracts of nearly $10 million a year. However, the outcome hasn’t been positive.
- Samuel Dalembert, Philadelphia 76ers - $65 million for 6 years (2005)
- Andris Biedrins, Golden State Warriors – $63 million for 6 years (2008)
- DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers – $42.7 million for 4 years (2011)
- Brendan Haywood, Dallas Mavericks – $55 million for 6 years (2010)
- Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers – $50 million for 6 years (2009)
Dalembert, who was 24 at the time, signed a contract extension with the 76ers despite only averaging 8.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. His best season was three years later when he averaged a double-double (10.5 points and 10.3 rebounds).
At the youthful age of 22, Biedrins nearly averaged a double-double (10.5 points and 9.8 rebounds) for the Warriors and Golden State decided to lock up the 7-foot-1 center for the next six years. Biedrins had one good season (11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds in 2007-08) and since then has struggled with his confidence. Now at only 26 years old, Biedrins may be the most expensive benchwarmer in the League. He is averaging 1.8 points this season and will be making $9 million a season for the next three years.
The Clippers wanted to keep their frontcourt intact this summer and overpaid Jordan, who had a modest season in 2011 after averaging 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. The 23-year-old is getting paid just over $10 million and is averaging 7.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
Four days before the Mavericks traded for Tyson Chandler in 2010, they re-signed Brendan Haywood to a massive contract in hopes he’d solidify Dallas’ void in the middle. This season, Haywood is averaging 5.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1 block a contest and is making $7 million this season.
McGee potential could be another Dikembe Mutombo and may be a force in the middle, but it doesn’t warrant the big man getting a deal worth $10 million a year this summer- at least not with the Nuggets. Another squad may be willing to take a chance on McGee, but it might be smart for Denver to balk on the big man – at least at $10 million a year.
Topics: Anderson Varejao, Andris Biedrins, Brendan Haywood, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, DeAndre Jordan, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, JaVale McGee, Los Angeles Clippers, Nene, Philadelphia 76ers, Samuel Dalembert, Tyson Chandler