The Wizards aren’t winning, and it’s still pretty early to start talking in depth about where they’ll be and who they need to be tracking for this summer’s NBA Draft. That would make JaVale McGee’s entry in next month’s slam dunk contest at All-Star Weekend a welcome diversion, right?
Not exactly. When Wizards coach Flip Saunders was asked this morning what he thought the contest could do for McGee’s confidence, he had a one-word answer: “Nothing.”
“Gerald Green won the dunk contest,” said Saunders. “Where is he at now? [Apparently, Russia, since he asked.] That weekend is an entertainment weekend. What that does for players and their ability has nothing to do with that they transfer onto the court. There’s been a lot of players that have been in those contests that are not in the league anymore because what they did is they were great leapers, and they relied just on doing that, and they became so focused on their ability to do that, they didn’t expand their rest of their game. That’s why they’re not playing in our league anymore. There are players, some of the great ones – Michael [Jordan] and those guys – who have had the ability to do that and continue. Our main thing with JaVale is the ability to continue to keep on improving. I’d rather see him score more jump hooks than dunks, to be honest.”
Still, for a team struggling as much as Washington has this season, any victory is a victory.
“I’m happy for him, and hopefully he can bring a trophy back home for us, get us a win in that,” said Andray Blatche. “Hopefully he just comes back from that with a lot of energy and start dominating more on the defensive end.”
Blatche did let on that McGee’s selection to the contest has also sparked a mini controversy – that’s a joke – in the Wizards locker room, where Los Angeles native Nick Young feels a bit slighted for not getting the chance to wow the hometown crowds at Staples Center, where All-Star Weekend takes place this season and where he always seems to play well.
“I’m a little hurt, a little jealous,” said Young. “It’s a touchy situation. Going back home, it would’ve been nice to be in the dunk contest. It just hurts. It hurts a lot.”
For the second time in a month, Young got news that he couldn’t believe. First, it was Gilbert Arenas getting traded, now this.
“When he told me, I thought he was playing,” said Young. “Then I seen it, then I almost fainted. It was tough dealing with that, but I’m going to support him. I’m going to be down there. Hopefully, he just let me throw a pass or a lob to him, something. I’ll be out there. Just let me feel it, let me just be out there on the court, do something for him.”
But Young is stopping short at giving McGee any ideas, such as this one, and instead is holding out hope that he’ll get called in as a late understudy.
“I’m going to let him go out there on his own,” said Young. “You never know. Somebody might not make it. I don’t want him to steal my moves. I heard I was up in line, up on deck so I’m going to keep faith.”