As the Nuggets settle in to play the Mavericks for the fourth and final time of the regular season, I will forgo the normal preview. Here is my open letter to JaVale McGee in what I will hope will be a clean slate to start the next 20 games with his new team
Denver: 25-20 (14-11 at home)
Streak: Won 1
Dallas: 26-20 (8-13 on the road)
Streak: Won 3
Dallas: Delonte West (day to day), Shawn Marion (out for tonight), Brenden Haywood (out)
Season Series: 2-1 Dallas
Opposition's Take: Mavs Moneyball
My lingering memory of you is, while you were playing against the Denver Nuggets earlier this season, when you were with your former team the Washington Wizards ... you had three straight goaltending calls against you on consecutive Nuggets possessions. They weren't even close dude. You proceeded to pout the rest of the second half and played like you didn't want to be on the court.
Mistakes make people. Isn't that what people say?
So now you are on the Nuggets. The fact that the Nuggets traded for you in particular surprised me. Everyone has seen your blooper reel by now and, lets just say that it doesn't make you look like the most "basketball IQ" savy person out there. I would be lying if I didn't say that these things have heavily influenced my perception of you. It's very hard not to let someone who is clowned on National TV (TNT, NBA TV) affect your point of view. It's human nature.
Yet, despite all that, I am told that you are freakishly athletic and you can run the court very well. That can't be a bad thing right? You have obvious skills and you have very long arms. All these things can come in handy when you are trying to build a consistently competitive team. My question to you, JaVale, is can YOU be consistently competitive without pouting? Without the boneheaded mistakes? Without the obvious stat padding and J.R. Smith esque lack of game awareness?
These are your challenges. I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you were on a terrible team, and therefore that seeped into your brain. Maybe the influence of good coaching (during practices) and solid players will help you out. Clean slate from here on out. I won't let the mistakes of the past influence me if you show marked improvement and a willingness to learn. That's all we can ask of each other. No snarky comments from me.
The future is now JaVale!
Nuggets of Wisdom
The Nuggets owe the Dallas Mavericks a beat down. The last two games the Nuggets encountered the Mavs, the Nuggets were heavily injured and weren't exactly representative of their actual talents. Now, the Nuggets have a full roster with Wilson Chandler signed, Danilo Gallinari back from injury, Rudy Fernandez back from injury and JaVale McGee signed in place of Nene. Should be interesting to see.
The Mavs are coming off a defeat of San Antonio and have won three in a row. The Mavs are old, they have a couple players injured, but they are still dangerous. Any team with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd will be formidable as long as they are playing well. They are the defending champs, lest we forget. They have their own head case in Lamar Odom, however, when Odom is "on" he adds that extra dimension of talent that just can't be accounted for. Hopefully for the Nuggets sake he won't be "on" this evening.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets have a minutes problem. With the signing of Chandler the Nuggets have a glut of wing players, and minute distribution will be a key. Unfortunately, knowing George Karl, he will most likely do the counter-intuitive thing and cut in to Gallo's minutes to account for Wilson Chandler while still playing his beloved two point guard lineup with Andre Miller and Ty Lawson. That prospect kind of sucks. The right thing to do would be to limit Corey Brewer or Rudy Fernandez' minutes while alternating Gallinari between the 3 and 2 spot. Hopefully we never see Gallo playing power forward with Wilson Chandler on the court. That should NEVER happen.
Now that I've said that should never happen ... it probably will. Sigh.
Anyway, the emergence of Kenneth Faried has been exciting. He and Gallo were a sizable reason the Nuggets won their last game against the Boston Celtics. I look forward to those two matching up against the Mavs wing players. Specifically Faried vs. Dirk. Manimal hasn't proven to be a good one on one defender yet (Antwan Jamison anyone?) and this will be another big test for our rookie. Dirk is huge and awkward, hopefully Faried can stay out of foul trouble and be the big energy factor he has been lately.
I don't anticipate Chandler seeing the court much tonight because he's most likely out of basketball shape. McGee will be the interesting one to watch. See what kind of minutes he gets and how intelligently he plays within a new system.
It's almost like the first day of training camp isn't it?
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78