Skip to content

Denver signed JaVale McGee $44 million last summer. Kosta Koufos starts.

Jan 2, 2013, 3:17 PM EST

Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Larry Sanders opens up about disastrous 2013-14 season

    Dec 21, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Larry Sanders Larry Sanders

    Everything went wrong for Sanders and the Bucks last year.

  2. Report: Lance Stephenson has clashed with Hornets teammates

    Dec 21, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    Why else would trade rumors surface 20 games or so into his first season in Charlotte?

  3. Blake Griffin with dagger tip-in to lift Clippers past Bucks (VIDEO)

    Dec 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Blake Griffin, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul AP

    The Bucks went heavy with Brandon Knight at the end of the game. That went about as well as you’d expect.

  4. Rajon Rondo’s career highlights with the Celtics (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 10:30 PM EST

    Rajon Rondo Rajon Rondo

    A final look back at Rondo’s time in Boston as he gets set to make his debut with Dallas.

  5. Report: Cavaliers GM passed on trading for Corey Brewer, hopes to add defensive big man instead

    Dec 20, 2014, 9:00 PM EST

    David Griffin AP

    Cavaliers are tied with the Pistons for 23rd in defensive efficiency.

  6. Report: Kings discussing trade for Deron Williams with Nets

    Dec 20, 2014, 7:11 PM EST

    New Jersey Nets practice 05/07/2014 AP

    Kings are looking to make a splash, and Williams has been made available in trade by the Nets.

  7. Report: Multiple teams contacting Suns trying to trade for Goran Dragic

    Dec 20, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns Media Day Phoenix Suns Media Day

    Dragic will opt out of the final year of his deal to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

  8. Jeremy Lin after Kobe misses at the buzzer: ‘I like game-winners too’

    Dec 20, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Lin understands why Bryant always gets the ball in these situations, but admits he’d like to get some opportunities.

  9. Serge Ibaka blocks Carlos Boozer at the rim, does Mutombo finger wag (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Serge Ibaka, Carlos Boozer AP

    As the Thunder ended up winning by one, 104-103, this block ended up being very important.

  10. Damian Lillard drops career high 43, leads Blazers to 3OT win over Spurs (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 2:07 AM EST

    Damian Lillard AP

    Lillard needs to get mentioned with the game’s top point guards.

Featured video

Jabari Parker injury latest for disappointing rookie class
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Bosh (7227)
  2. K. Martin (7222)
  3. K. Durant (6715)
  4. R. Rondo (6693)
  5. T. Parker (6566)
  1. T. Jones (6396)
  2. A. Bogut (6294)
  3. M. Smart (6280)
  4. D. Favors (6057)
  5. D. Rose (5998)