Center of Attention

The Washington Wizards have a young player with blazing speed making him a nightmare match-up for many at his position.

There is little question he will be future All-Star and his athleticism makes him one of the most exciting young players in the league.

On both ends of the floor, he can dominate and opponents now have to prepare to stop him.

No, we’re not talking about John Wall, but JaVale McGee.

As one of the few truly skilled centers in the league, McGee is slowly evolving into a dominant rebounder, fantastic shot blocker and a legitimate offensive threat.

Entering his third season in the NBA, McGee has always been a terrific athlete, he is now harnessing his talents and has evolved into a leader for the young Wizards.

Unfortunately, the Wizards are off to a 5-10 start and will likely miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.

JaVale McGee has been impressive since his brief stint with Team USA this summer.

McGee has been a bright spot for this team, but still needs to progress into a consistent player.

The 22-year-old has made some amazing plays but also has left Washington scratching its head at times.

During a game against the Boston Celtics, McGee soared in for an offensive rebound, beat two opponents to the ball and then proceeded to fire up a runner of the side of the backboard.

The young mistakes he’s making are somewhat acceptable considering all of the work he puts into improving his game.

During the summer, McGee was so impressive he was invited to try out for Team USA as they prepared for the FIBA World Championship.

The center position is slowly becoming more and more talented throughout the league. Dwight Howard is clearly the best but Andrew Bogut, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert and Andrea Bargnani have all emerged as All-Star candidates in the Eastern Conference.

Even with the increase of talent, McGee was the only one competing over the summer to enhance his game.

Competing with the best young players in the league, McGee among the final cuts for the eventual gold medal winners.

Instead of being satisfied with his performance, McGee remained in Las Vegas and bonded with Wall during the NBA summer league.

Typically only players trying to earn a roster spot, rookies and sophomore players compete in the Summer League, but McGee played to bond with Wall, the number one pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

One of the standouts in the league, McGee averaged 20 points and nine rebounds per game to establish some momentum heading into the regular season.

The difference could be seen immediately. During the second game of the season against Atlanta, McGee swatted seven shots along with seven rebounds.

The blocks are anything but a fluke as McGee ranks second in the league averaging 2.73 blocks per game.

Still prone to mistakes, coach Flip Saunders was reluctant to give the seven-footer lengthy playing time.

But as the season has progressed, so has the trust in McGee and extended playing time was met with a drastic increase in production.

Twice this season, McGee has played over 40 minutes and each time the results were impressive.

Against Detroit, he posted 20 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks, but Washington fell to the Pistons.

Two nights later, the Wizards returned home to face Philadelphia and McGee responded with the best game of his career. His 24 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks Washington win in overtime.

No question Wall is the cornerstone of the franchise, but with McGee in the middle, the Wizards have a foundation capable of bringing respectability to the franchise.

Sure Wall is likely to become one of the best point guards in the league, but Washington’s success may hinge on the development of its young center.

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About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.
This entry was posted in Eastern Conference, Player Profiles and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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