Wizards center JaVale McGee led Washington in efficiency over their two preseason losses to the Philadelphia 76ers. While he put up some awkward looking hook shots during the stretch, his rhythm at the free throw line more than made up for his miscues. Forward Andray Blatche placed second in efficiency, with an eye on the line as well, while Wizards guard John Wall finished in a four-way tie for ninth. Can Washington’s backcourt get it together?
McGee spent a lot of his training camp by working behind the free throw line, and the results showed over the preseason. McGee, a career 62% shooter at that distance, finished 9-for-11 from the stripe (81.8%). If he can carry over his improved form he might have a career season ahead. Whether McGee can keep it up over 66-games is questionable, but a big improving his free throw percentage is not unheard of in Washington.
Former Wizard Brendan Haywood shot 54.8% from behind the free throw line over the 2006-07 season. In 2007-08 he improved to 73.5%, a rather remarkable leap. However, Haywood shot a career-worst 36.2% last season with the Dallas Mavericks–and helped them win an NBA Championship in the process.
At the end of the day, the only stat that matters is the final score. Just ask four-time NBA Champion Shaquille O’Neal, who averaged 50.4% over his postseason career. Still, critics have been waiting for McGee to show a second dimension. He can block shots, he can dunk, but what can he do to get to the next level?
McGee is in a position similar to teammate Nick Young, who needs to transcend past his one-dimensional “scorer” role. “The Nick & JaVale Show” raised questions regarding the maturity of both athletes due to their “Cinnamon Challenge,” and for McGee, little things like free throw practice could help shed the fun and games image and improve his low post confidence.
For Young, and Washington’s guards, something’s got to give. Wall committed 10 turnovers and dished only 6 assists over two games against the Sixers. One question heading into this season is how will Wall fare without a veteran point guard to help out on the court. Based on his efficiency over the preseason, it’s a valid concern.
Preseason: Average Efficiency
01. McGee 19
02. Blatche 15.5
03. Booker 11*
04. Mack 8
05. Vesely 6*
06. Crawford 5.5
07. Young 5*
08. Lewis 4.5
09. Wall, Singleton, Turiaf, Mason 3
10. Seraphin, Owens* 1
Efficiency formula: ((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) – ((Field Goals Att. – Field Goals Made) + (Free Throws Att. – Free Throws Made) + Turnovers)).