Jan 2, 2013, 3:17 PM EDT
Last season, the Denver Nuggets were willing to move a quality (if often injured) big man in Nene for JaVale McGee. Then last summer they inked McGee to a four-year, $44 million contract to be part of the future in Denver.
If you have watched a Nuggets game recently — or even looked at a box score — you’ll notice Kosta Koufos is the starter at center.
McGee is giving Denver 10.7 points and 5.2 rebounds a game in just less than 20 minutes a night, and doing it as efficiently has he ever has (shooting 58.3 percent). He blocks shots but his lust for those blocks often takes him out of rebounding position. His decision making can be confounding, but he has the athleticism to overcome some of those errors. On the season his +/- is -.4 — he’s basically a break even player when on the floor, although that doesn’t do justice to the “good JaVale/bad JaVale” nature of his game.. Still, it’s good production for your backup center.
It’s not good production for a guy getting $11 million. The Nuggets paid McGee on potential and got basically the same player he was last season — inconsistent, capable of huge numbers or a blooper reel highlight at any moment. That’s not what a coach can trust.
Ask Nuggets coach George Karl why Koufos starts — as Jeff Caplan of NBA.com did — and he is straightforward.
“I think he’s a really good, important player for us,” Karl said. “But in the same sense I’m going to play the guys who I think can help you win the game….
“I think he’s showing me he’s about a 20-minute basketball player,” Karl said. “For me, I go into most games, I have no idea who’s going to finish the game and it’s earned as the game goes on.”
Denver is about to go on a hot streak. They are 18-15 this season but 10-1 at home where they play 14 of their next 17. Denver is currently the seven seed in a deep and crowded West and the next month is huge for them, it is the chance to create some cushion and move up in the standings. The bottom of the West is going to be a dog fight — right now 4.5 games separate the six and 12 seeds. In there Minnesota and the Lakers are getting healthy, Dallas got Dirk Nowitzki back (even though it hasn’t helped yet) and teams like the Rockets are finding themselves. Every game matters for Denver right now.
How much McGee is going to be a part of that run will depend on McGee. And if he earns those huge checks.
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Oct 30, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
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Oct 30, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
It’s a sign Dan Gilbert is pulling out the checkbook to spend.
Oct 30, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
The Spurs just got better.
Oct 30, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT
Look for a decision sometime after Christmas.
Oct 30, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT
The time the Nuggets center responded to a heckler
Oct 30, 2014, 3:11 PM EDT
Cleveland, as of a few days ago, reportedly hadn’t begun negotiations with Thompson
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Faried reveals Nuggets defensive game plan against Pistons
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Oct 30, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT
The season is about process for the Cavaliers, but tonight is about celebration of home.
Oct 30, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
It was a good night to be a Hornets fan.
Oct 30, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
Bulls center has discussed Phil Jackson with his younger brother
Oct 30, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT
Gasol was dominant opening night, and Derrick Rose is thrilled to finally have some help.
Oct 30, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
Awesome block by Buck
Oct 30, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
Warriors shooting guard met starter criteria in game against Kings
Oct 30, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT
They wouldn’t be the Suns and Timberwolves, would they?
Oct 30, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Celtics point guard photographed in T station
Old tweets: Kevin Durant uses gay slurs (including at Russell Westbrook), Damian Lillard rips LeBron James
Oct 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Oct 30, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
Rough first night in the NBA to be guarded by Tony Allen.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
New owner could recoup money over next 15 years
Oct 30, 2014, 2:45 AM EDT
Good night to be the Trail Blazers. Not so much for Kobe Bryant.
- LeBron makes emotional return to Cleveland tonight, new Nike ad shows city standing together (VIDEO) 29
- Dominant Pau Gasol shows he may be a perfect fit for Bulls 12
- Old tweets: Kevin Durant uses gay slurs (including at Russell Westbrook), Damian Lillard rips LeBron James 26
- Wednesday night’s NBA winners, losers: Chris Bosh wants you to know he is a No. 1 option 23
- Rajon Rondo leads Celtics to rout of Nets. How much does it mean? 9
- Bulls cruise to 24-point opening night win over Knicks 17
- Lakers’ rookie Julius Randle has surgery to repair fractured tibia, out for season 16
- Anthony Davis has zero chance of winning MVP this season 39