May 12, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (34) defends Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) in the second half of game seven of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Staples Center. Lakers won 96-87. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

What Is JaVale McGee Worth?

While Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez and Omer Asik have all locked up healthy contracts, the question remains how much is JaVale McGee worth?

Some believe he is at the same level as Hibbert, who was a big part in the Indiana Pacers advancing to the second round, and that McGee should get something similar to Hibbert’s 4-year, $58 million deal. Others are skeptical that McGee is worth the max. Especially after only watching him play in a Denver Nuggets uniform for half the year.

Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post believes that McGee could get a deal around the $10 million range. However, it all boils down to how valuable he is to the Nuggets future success?

After being dealt from Washington, he played 27 games (including seven playoff games) and scored more than 10 points in 14 contests, had five games with 10 rebounds or more and four double-doubles.

While he has a lot of upside, he isn’t the most consistent player. He followed up his 21-point, 14-rebound performance in Game 5 with a 2-point and 5-rebound letdown in Game 6 – which the Nuggets still won.

Some believe he can develop into an offensive threat, but the chances of that are slim. Most of his success on the offensive side of the ball came working off his teammates and taking advantage of defenses not respecting his ability to jump out of the gym. He still struggles with his moves in the post, partly because of his lack of patience. And it isn’t going to get easier when he faces double teams, which he very rarely sees now.

That doesn’t mean that he can’t impact a game on offense, in the home finale against the Orlando Magic McGee took advantage of his size and worked with his teammates to find open seams on the floor and around the basket. He even did a great job in the pick -and-roll.

Defensively, is where McGee is most valuable and is also is the main reason for Denver to keep his services. His 7-foot-6 wingspan has few rivals in the post. He can block shots and make opponents altar their attempts. McGee potentially could be the best defensive center in Denver since Dikembe Mutombo (if he isn’t already). However, the biggest concern about McGee is foul trouble – which was why he didn’t start many games for Denver.

McGee was in foul trouble in 13 games with the Nuggets and in three of the games he started he had to sit in the first quarter after picking up two fouls (both of which were offensive fouls).

Needless to say, McGee is an intriguing prospect that the Nuggets must retain. But the question still remains for how much?

It’s the two dreaded words – big man and upside – that always surround McGee. Both of which spell trouble for young GMs. Everybody wants a big man, especially one that is young and still developing. Some overpay to keep the players and the majority of the time money stunts the growth – just ask the Golden State Warriors.

Four summers ago they were in the same spot.  A year removed from the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors main goal in the off-season was locking up their young players, particularly Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. Biedrins, was only 22 years old at the time, and was coming off of a season in which he averaging 10.5 and 9.8 rebounds and even set the record for rebounds in a game (30 boards against the New York Knicks).  The Warriors were worried Biedrins would jettison overseas and so they quickly gave him a six-year deal worth $63 million in hopes he’d develop into one of the top centers in the NBA. Now at the age of 26, Biedrins is dealing with a number of issues, both legal and personal, and is practically untradeable.

McGee is in a different place than Biedrins. He has a big influence from his mother- which should at least keep him on the right path of success. He also has a much higher ceiling on the defensive side of the ball than Biedrins. But in a league where bad contracts can destroy teams, what is the big man worth?


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