JaVale McGee attracted attention for the wrong reasons this week, with his mad dash to get back on defense against Toronto — while the Wizards still had the ball — becoming an unfortunate Internet sensation.
But the bizarre sequence — which included him missing a swooping hook shot, John Wall inviting him to come back into the play, then missing a terrible lob from Wall and falling to the ground — has also demonstrated how much McGee has been struggling since the calendar switched to February.
McGee came on strong near the end of the January, grabbing at least 10 rebounds in three of the last four games, and becoming the first Wizard since Gheorghe Muresan to have two games with at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots in the same month.
But in five games this month, McGee is averaging 6.8 points on just 40.5 percent shooting, 6.6 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 4.2 fouls. He has yet to grab at least 10 rebounds in six games and has gone five games without scoring at least 10 points.
Coach Randy Wittman acknowledged that his big man has been slumping. “We just got to fight through it,” Wittman said. “The dog days of the NBA happen every year. Whatever it is, fatigue, sickness, just not playing well. Got to fight through ‘em. I’ve got to help him. I’ll continue to do it. He’s got to stay uplifted and help himself also.”
McGee had eight points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in the Wizards’ 107-93 loss to the New York Knicks but was unable to stay on the floor because of foul trouble and an inability to contain Jeremy Lin or Tyson Chandler in the pick-and-roll.
Though he spent a good portion of his 20 minutes on the floor arguing calls with officials, McGee, oddly enough, finished with a plus-minus of plus-3 against the Knicks, second-best on the team.
“He’s important to us,” Wittman said. “His playing well has a positive effect on this team, offensively and defensively. He can’t let one factor of his play affect the other things that he can do. If he’s having trouble scoring, he can’t let that affect rebounding and blocked shots, and running the floor and tyrign to get easy baskets. I got to try to help him, pump him up and fight through it. It happens to everybody who goes through a stretch and you have to hard work your way through it and all of sudden, you have a good game and you feel good about yourself.”