Nuggets-Lakers Game 5: The JaVale McGee Show, Part II

At the NBA trade deadline, our own Royce Young listed JaVale McGee, a young and hilariously-boneheaded-at-times center for the lowly Washington Wizards, as a winner. Here's what he wrote. 

McGee gets to go from being the poster boy of futility in Washington, to a role player on a playoff contender. Winning can bring the best out of players. It's tough to go out and do things when you're playing on a team like the Wizards. But get in a place where your bonehead play might end up costing you home court advantage or a playoff game and you'd be amazed at how knuckleheaded players play. McGee gets to play in a situation where he means something, and that could bring out the best in him. Finally.

via NBA Trade Deadline: Winners and Losers - CBSSports.

Finally, indeed.

Against the Lakers with the Nuggets' backs against the wall and on the road, JaVale McGee was the player you hope a player like him becomes. The hustle junkie that delivers key play after key play over, around, and through the supposedly superior Andrew Bynum who has had everything handed to him on a yellow and purple platter.

A joke in Washington, a playoff hero in Denver. This is what can happen when you get out of a losing organization and into more structure. This isn't to excuse how McGee played in Washington. He was as bad a part of the Wizards as any of the misfit toys. He played badly. But there was always effort. Misguided, misdirected, misplaced effort, but effort. And George Karl, if by nothing else than fostering a winning environment, has converted that effort to impact.

That halfcourt lob was pretty awesome. But if you want to really see McGee's impact in Game 5, take a look at this one.
 

 


McGee took it to the Lakers in Game 5, and Bynum sat by and watched. The Nuggets still have a massive hill to climb and there's no telling when Andrew Bynum's going to actually engage and take over. But for one night, JaVale McGee is living up to his potential and making an impact. 

He is 24 years old.
CBS Sports Writer

Matt Moore's colleagues have been known to describe him as a "maniac" in terms of his approach to covering the NBA, which he has done for CBS Sports since 2010. Moore prides himself on melding reporting,... Full Bio

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