Season in Review
When the Dallas Mavericks first agreed to terms with JaVale McGee this past offseason, it appeared to be something that they had needed for some time. The long-time veteran came to Dallas with the intention of being their everyday starter at the center position. However, not long into the season McGee found himself on the bench.
McGee only appeared in 42 games this season, averaging 8.5 minutes per game. He averaged 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, and less than an assist per game. McGee averaged less than one block per game for the first time since 2017-18.
Although McGee only played for short spurts at a time, there were several things he showed he could do to help secure a spot in the Mavericks’ rotation—mainly rebounding. The Mavericks have lacked depth in the front court for years, and even in his short minutes, McGee had several games where he grabbed five or more rebounds. He only averaged three rebounds in total on the season but definitely showed flashes of being able to position himself to come down with the ball.
Another aspect that McGee brought this season was his shot-blocking ability. On the season, he averaged less than one block per game. However, he had several games where he tallied more than two blocks, so maybe a shot-blocker still lurks within. It’s been a while since the Mavericks have had a player with rim protection ability, and McGee returning to form in that area could help ensure him some playing time on this team moving forward.
Finally, the last area where JaVale is a threat is his ability to finish lobs to the rim. Big men who have played with Dallas superstar Luka Doncic have benefited from some great looks at the rim. McGee is no different. He has tremendous jumping ability and is a massive threat to throw it down from time to time, if he can get his chemistry with Doncic right.
One of the knocks about McGee has always been the moments where his awareness of what is going on around him is lacking. He has been a frequent flyer on the “Shaqtin’ A Fool” segment for different plays where he made silly mistakes. Whether it’s the ball bouncing off of his head on a pass, or him stepping out of bounds repeatedly, McGee gives plenty of evidence as to why he’s struggled to find a consistent starter role with quality teams.
Another area of weakness for McGee is that he tends to get into foul trouble, early and often. He had several moments this season where he was out of place on defense and wound up fouling players driving to the basket because he was late getting into position. Because of the foul trouble, he was not able to log consistent minutes early in the season, leading to his eventual exile to the bench.
McGee’s best game came on February 10 against the Sacramento Kings. He scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds. He also dished out two assists. This game wasn’t his offensive high, which came December 10th against the Chicago Bulls, when McGee scored 18 points. However, that early February matchup was his most complete game of the season.
McGee will be heading into the second year of a three-year contract. The third year of his contract, which will come in the 2024-2025 season, is a player option. This could come into play as the Mavericks look to improve their roster this offseason, as well as ahead of the trade deadline in the upcoming season.
The Mavericks have hinted that this offseason could bring several changes to the roster. There are several avenues they could choose to pursue, whether it be a trade on the night of the NBA draft, or perhaps a sign-and -trade option with free agent Kyrie Irving. McGee and his contract could be used to facilitate either. They might also choose to retain McGee and allow him to build on his chemistry with his teammates, making him a serviceable option off the bench for the upcoming season.
McGee definitely was not what the team had hoped for when they signed him. Over his career, he’s shown flashes of a dominant rebounder and shot blocker. However, with a lack of consistent performance that ultimately led to a lack of consistent minutes, the overall performance left quite a bit to be desired. At the age of 35, it’s difficult to see him improving. McGee could still fulfill a situational role on this team if he is able to find some consistency and defensive awareness.