I haven't watched a lot of JaVale McGee's games, and the few youtubes that I saw were mostly him making hilarious/frustrating mental mistakes. I wanted to get a sense of what kind of player he was relative to Nene and see exactly what he could bring to the Nuggets offense.
Lets delve into the numbers, such as they are:
This year McGee has attempted exactly 400 shots and he's made 214 of them for a shooting percentage of 53% and the majority of these were assisted, suggesting set plays or action by team mates giving him open lanes and looks. Half of his shots, not surprisingly, came at the rim where he hit 70% of his shots, majority of those being dunks. As we get away from the hoop McGee's percentages drop pretty dramatically, as would be expected from his scouting reports and low-post game. He hits 36% from 3-9 feet, 30% from 10-15. Thankfully, the last category only comprises 10% of his shots. So at least he's playing within his game.
The numbers also show that McGee has a pretty decent hook shot (63%) given that this also has a fairly low assist rate, it suggests this is shot McGee can create for himself. On the negative side, any other shot other than a dunk is sub par - he's only hitting 21% of his jump shots despite attempting them 131 times and his lay-up numbers are also subpar (49%).
When you compare this to Nene's current season, they actually stack up surprisingly well. In most areas JaVale comes out slightly ahead of Nene. For example, Nene only converted 66% at the rim (to JaVale's 70) and only hit 24% of his shots from 3-9 ft (to JaVale's 36%). Nene's post game also somewhat falters - he's shooting terrible on hook shots (37%, although he's also not attempt many) but does shoot better on layups (56%). Although, one does speculate that many of those missed lay-ups could have been dunks.
If we go back to Nene's 2010-2011 season, its clear he was better across the board. Last season Nene hit about 10% more of his shots. His hook shot was a lot better (59%) and he was better at his layups (63%).
One area that really stands out from that year is the number of shots Nene took from just inside the 3 point line. He took 77 shots from 16-3pt line and hit just a shade under half of them. That's pretty impressive for a center and that aspect of his game is completely missing from this year's Nene.
Still, its a rough estimate of simply their shooting. Lets look at other aspects.
In terms of offensive rebounding, McGee is better, grabbing over 10% of the boards that come his way, a rate that's comparable with Dwight Howard. McGee is also a better shot blocker (again, similar to Howard). However, Nene does outclass him when it comes to passing and ball handling.
So what does this all mean?
As far as THIS season goes, it looks like the Nuggets offense won't miss a beat when McGee subs in for Nene, and in fact, in most aspects, it looks like McGee might do a bit better. He certainly plays as more of a "true" center than Nene does, and in many aspects of his game, is strangely similar to Howard.
JaVale 82games: http://www.82games.com/1112/11WAS15.HTM
Nene 82games: http://www.82games.com/1112/11DEN13.HTM
Howard 82games: http://www.82games.com/1112/11ORL16.HTM