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JaVale McGee and the Warriors need each other

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After a quiet trade deadline, it’s time for McGee and the Warriors to embrace a co-dependent relationship

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The coach of the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr has a talent problem — there’s almost too much of it here.

Almost.

While they struggle to consistently play at their highest level, one of our biggest spark plugs off the bench sits, unused.

Free McGee

After languishing on the cold deep end of the bench for most of the season, Kerr dusted JaVale McGee off a few nights ago in a game in Utah that ended up being one of the worst losses of Kerr’s tenure with the Warriors. Lost in the 30-point blowout, McGee had 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks in just 15 minutes. As a reward? Kerr let him see the court in each of the past five games - the longest such stretch of activity for McGee.

So far this season, McGee has only appeared in 40 of the team’s 56 games, a huge drop off from last season’s 77 games. Much of this is simply the fact that he got played out of the rotation - David West, Kevon Looney, and Jordan Bell have all contributed to the retrogression of McGee’s minutes.

But Kerr may be chasing these new prospects so hard that he is leaving one of the team’s most potent weapons to gather dust. Against the Spurs on Saturday night, McGee was a +11 in just seven minutes, with seven points, three rebounds, a block. The kind of performance that we could use on a nightly basis, right?

On a per minute basis, McGee is our best shot blocker and on any basis whatsoever, he is one of our most effective vertical spacers. You see, for a finesse team like the Warriors, bringing in a super springy guy to flush lobs on one end and reject shots on the other is almost certainly worth more than the box score will reflect.

You can see some of his value evident in this series from last night’s win over the San Antonio Spurs, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Why is Kerr fighting it so hard? Can we just play McGee more, please?

The only people on this roster with less playing time than McGee are Quin Cooke and Damian Jones - both of whom play pretty much exclusively in the development “G” League. Omri Casspi has twice as many minutes as McGee and has been incredibly ineffective.

Look, I get it: McGee does not figure into our long-term plans, he’s always been something of a stopgap measure while the Warriors wait for one of their young bigs to develop. But these championship windows are a limited opportunity that we need to attack... like a JaVale McGee lob.

While it is certainly important to develop our young bigs, I think the team is doing themselves a disservice by not using a player who is ready and able to contribute now. Since it looks like he’s not going anywhere, I hope that Kerr and McGee look at each other and realize how much they both need one another. Kerr needs to embrace the zany power of McGee’s game, and McGee doesn’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Poll

Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Spurs?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Steve Kerr
    (28 votes)
  • 54%
    Klay Thompson
    (265 votes)
  • 2%
    Draymond Green
    (14 votes)
  • 1%
    Zaza Pachulia
    (6 votes)
  • 12%
    David West
    (61 votes)
  • 21%
    Javale McGee
    (105 votes)
  • 0%
    Andre Iguodala
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Shaun Livingston
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (answer in the comments please)
    (5 votes)
485 votes total Vote Now