Conventional basketball wisdom dictates that a play cannot be both flashy and smart. By this rationale, the fundamentals are enough to succeed, because the opponent will eventually make a mistake that can be exploited. But this view limits the range of basketball possibility, particularly at the highest levels of the game. Sometimes, a player has to force a risky move to make a possession work.
Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee has never been considered a heady player — in fact, on Wednesday morning, Jay Busbee noted that his coach said “lazy and crazy isn’t going to make it work” in direct reference to him. On Wednesday night, though, McGee showed that he can build upon his athleticism with a little creativity. In the final minute of the third quarter, with Denver already up 78-64 on the Rockets in Houston, McGee took a dribble to his right, let Omer Asik fly by him on a shot fake, and saw an open lane to the basket. Lacking a dribble, JaVale threw the ball high up off the glass, exploded toward the rim, and finished the self-administered alley-oop with his right hand. It was a great, athletic play, and also a smart one. It was everything we’ve ever wanted JaVale McGee to be. It also helped the Nuggets keep the momentum up in their 105-95 win.
Apparently McGee understood that this play was a little out of the norm, so he finished it up by throwing up a fingerstache on the way back to the defensive end. The man clearly knows what we expect from him, and also clearly loves fingerstaches.