After a 24 point, 17 rebound, five assist night against the Philadelphia 76ers that drew raves from Charles Barkley and others, we wouldn’t be surprised if coaches were showing their young bigs Tim Duncan game tape as the 36-year-old San Antonio Spurs forward has been the picture of consistency all season and throughout his career.
Not surprisingly, one NBA head coach is hoping his young, athletic phenom of a center picks something up from Duncan.
Washington post beat writer Michael Lee, who used to cover JaVale McGee regularly when he was a member of the Wizards before being traded to the Nuggets last season, talked to Nuggets coach George Karl recently about the young center.
McGee is considered one of the top young big men in the game with tremendous upside, but regardless of his jaw-dropping athleticism and YouTube highlights, McGee has yet to really put the pieces together to help his team win games consistently and is averaging just 20 minutes per game as Karl starts Kosta Koufas at center.
“I think he’s a tremendous talent. I think he’s an incredible, athletic, 7-1, whatever he is,” Nuggets Coach George Karl said of McGee. “For me, I just want him to be more consistent on the fundamental area of basketball and more than anything, I want him to be more committed to the concepts and philosophies and fundamentals of our team.”
Consistent and fundamental? Who better to look to than “The Big Fundamental” himself?
“I think he tries to be spectacular. Basketball is a game of possession after possession of doing things the right way, doing your job and letting the spectacular come. I think JaVale tries to find the spectacular and forces the spectacular when if you just let Andre Miller and Ty [Lawson], let us orchestrate the game, something big time will happen. But I just want him to be more Tim Duncan-like. I tell him I like Tim Duncan. I want Tim Duncan. That’s what I want.”
And who can blame him? In his 16th season when he’s supposed to be several steps slower and fading away gracefully, Duncan refuses to go gentle into that good night.
Duncan is putting up numbers similar to his stats from three years ago, averaging 17.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game and a whopping 2.7 blocks per game, good enough for fourth in the league.
Instead of playing a bit role, Duncan has extended his career by consistently knocking down midrange shots, but I’ve seen him finish with dunks moreso this season than in years past.
While Duncan may have never been able to sky into the air, catch a high lob, and contort his body enough to slam the ball through the net, McGee and several young centers around the league could benefit from watching Duncan while he is still near the top of his game while they can.
George Karl and 29 other head coaches would agree.