Written By: Matt Moore| August 17, 2012
While Amar’e Stoudemire was getting all the digital ink about working out with Hakeem Olajuwon, very quietly, another big man slipped into the gym in Houston with the Dream this week. Nuggets center JaVale McGee has been working with Olajuwon on his game, and the Hall of Famer has some, ahem, pretty lofty praise for the youngster. From Fox Sports Houston: “No question, I see him as another star,” Olajuwon said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “That guy should dominate the league.
“He has tremendous talent. I give him all these moves and he can finish and he’s already skilled. So now just show him how to use that skill to (get) to the next level.”
“McGee is incredible because he’s not just a seven-footer, he’s skilled,” Olajuwon said. “He’s very agile. “Most of my moves are designed from a shot-blockers perspective. I am a shot blocker. What are the moves most difficult for a shot blocker? I’m coming from inside out. This move is very difficult for a shot blocker to block.”
“The moves that we work on are not for a stiff big guy,” Olajuwon said. “With him he’s agile. The move flows. So I’m excited to see what he’s going to do this year.”
That “he should dominate” quote is what caught headlines, but the actual analysis that Olajuwon gave Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri should be just as big of a story. Ujiri appeared on104.3FM The Fan in Denver on Tuesday to talk about the Nuggets’ trade for Iguodala, and went into detail of what exactly Hakeem said McGee’s assets were.
“Hakeem told me he was just amazed at JaVale’s physical abilities and his athletic abilities,” Ujiri said. “How long he is, how quick his feet are. I saw him working on keeping his feet away from each other and not tangling. Just little things that you take for granted. He worked high on his jump hook and on getting his lift very high when he does that. He told him nobody can stop him, nobody is as big as him if he gets his lift and his hand up. There’s so many things Hakeem is teaching him, and we’re very pleased with his work.”
The jump hook element is paticularly of note. McGee has few consistent offensive moves. If he can develop even two sets of moves, it would bring a big adjustment.
But offense isn’t where he needs to improve the most work. McGee has to get better at his rotation defense, which is vastly different and faster than it was when the Dream was patrolling the paint. If Olajuwon can help him there, that would make the Nuggets a vastly improved team along with the addition of Iguodala. Even a small improvement would reap big benefits.
For now, though, maybe we should tone it down from “dominate” to just “make an impact that isn’t ridiculous.