DALLAS, TX — After missing the team’s first 13 games of the 2015–16 season due to a stress fracture in his left tibia, the Dallas Mavericks high-flying center JaVale McGee is starting to produce some quality minutes for Rick Carlisle and his staff.
In the Mavericks last game against Memphis, McGee had a bit of a coming out party by impacting the game on both ends of the floor. When the final buzzer finally sounded, McGee registered season-highs all the way across the board by logging 18 minutes, scoring 10 points, grabbing five rebounds, blocking three shots along with using his long frame to play solid defense on Memphis low-post beast Zach Randolph.
“It feels great, just out there working hard and keeping my conditioning up and just be ready,” McGee said. “That’s what I do – I dunk and block shots basically, so I’m just trying to keep it consistent and keep doing it.”
Four of McGee’s five baskets Friday were dunks, including a couple of timely alley-oops. Not bad for a guy who is better known more for being regularly featured on Inside the NBA’s basketball blooper feature “Shaqtin’ a Fool” than being a legit player.
McGee’s athleticism gives him the ability to be the vertical threat Dallas was looking for when trying to sign DeAndre Jordan this summer and had when Tyson Chandler was manning the paint last season to completely change the dynamic of the Dallas offense. During McGee’s breakout game, small forward Chandler had a season-high seven assists — including two passes to McGee for crowd approving finishes.
For Parsons, playing with an athletic center is a welcome sight as it has been a staple of his game during his career.
“[JaVale] been unbelievable for us and played great tonight, too, but [McGee is] the type of 5-man I’m used to playing with, playing with Dwight [Howard], playing with Tyson, playing with Brandan Wright,” Chandler said. “It’s a game-changer for us. The way he sets screens and rolls and having that lob threat is a whole other part of the game that we’ve been missing.”
Parsons isn’t the only Maverick forward excited by McGee’s emergence, pencil Mavericks franchise player Dirk Nowitzki in that club as well.
“[McGee] was fantastic for us tonight and played like the athletic big men you are starting to see on everybody’s roster,” Nowitzki said. “He stayed down and used his length, he got a couple blocks and finished above the rim. He was just very active and definitely was a game changer for us and is what we needed.”
After missing 136 of a possible 164 games due to the stress fracture while playing for two teams the last two season. McGee is greatly enjoying the support of Nowitzki and Co. even though he is still not fully healthy but figures to be operating athletically at about 90 percent capacity now.
“We have so much team comradery around here and we all ride for each other, that’s how a team wins and that’s how we stick together,” McGee said. “They brought me in here to be a piece of the puzzle, and I’m trying to make sure that I fit.”