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Explain One Play: JaVale McGee blocks for a Curry 3

JaVale McGee blocked shots left and right to help jump start a low-energy Warriors team against the Rockets on March 31, 2017.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors
respect my mind or die from dunk shower
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

This was a well-known trap game: the first home game back after a road trip.

Steve Kerr sent in McGee, who brought energy and electricity.

Let’s look at McGee’s most electric thirty seconds of the game. You can watch the clip and I’ll comment afterwards.

The first play has James Harden attacking with a simple, high pick-and-roll. The Warriors use the ICE defense, where Klay Thompson forces Harden away from the screen and McGee sags back to contain Harden’s drive. The danger is that Harden will run by McGee for a layup. But McGee does a great job defending the drive without fouling, and even blocks the shot. Bonus points for Thompson, who followed Harden to the basket and got the loose ball. Also, see Draymond Green waiting at the right post ready to step in if Harden gets by McGee.

The W’s counter-attack with Thompson pushing the ball ahead in early offense. Stephen Curry is open early and Thompson does a good job to feed him the ball. His defender is way too far off and also has hands down. As the Great Caterpillar Sage once said, “Hand down / man down.”

The Rockets come right back and Patrick Beverley isolates on Curry. Beverley crosses over, leaves Curry in the dust, and goes in for a layup. McGee rotates to challenge Beverley at the rim. McGee left Clint Capela alone, and you can see Capela signaling for an alley-oop to punish the rotation. Beverley thinks he can arc a floater over McGee. He is incorrect.

Capela, as you may recall, was left alone, so he sneaks in to get the loose ball and puts up the quick put-back before McGee can recover. But McGee is still super springy and he goes up right away to contest the second shot.

I like how McGee is NOT spiking these blocked shots into the crowd. That looks cool, but it’s much better to block the shot and get the ball back. You may remember that last year the coaching staff asked Festus Ezeli to not block shots into the fifth row, and he basically refused. Good to see McGee making some progress.

Final thoughts

I hate all these cheap fouls that Harden draws with unnatural shooting motion and his trying to draw contact. I have a humble proposal:

In baseball, if the batter is hit by a pitch, he gets awarded first base. HOWEVER, the batter has to be trying to avoid the ball (or otherwise have no chance to avoid it), or he will not get the base. This rule is to prevent batters from sticking out their body parts trying to get hit by the pitch, which is basically what Harden does.

So, I propose in basketball that a shooter is awarded free throws ONLY if the player is trying to avoid contact. Otherwise, it’s still a personal foul, but a non-shooting foul.

If you want to read more video breakdowns — one for well-nigh every Warriors’ win since 2015 — check out the Explain One Play Mega-Index, searchable and sortable by player, play, team and date.


Who in your opinion is the Most Valuable Player in the NBA?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    James Harden
    (156 votes)
  • 25%
    Russell Westbrook
    (549 votes)
  • 9%
    Kawhi Leonard
    (206 votes)
  • 2%
    Lebron James
    (58 votes)
  • 47%
    Stephen Curry
    (1025 votes)
  • 2%
    Isaiah Thomas
    (48 votes)
  • 2%
    Kevin Durant
    (61 votes)
  • 1%
    someone else
    (37 votes)
2140 votes total Vote Now

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