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Posted at 3:29 PM ET, 12/ 5/2010

Alvin Gentry says JaVale McGee "should be in the running for most improved player"

By Michael Lee

JaVale McGee's development this season has not gone unnoticed by Pheonix Suns coach Alvin Gentry, who said on Sunday that the third-year center should be in consideration for the league's most improved player award. McGee probably doesn't have a chance, with Kevin Love rebounding like he replaced his hands with suction cups and Russell Westbrook slowly creeping into elite point guard status.


Smart dude, this Alvin Gentry. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

But Gentry said that he and his coaches have been charting McGee's past 10 games and said teams have had a hard time keeping him off the offensive glass. McGee ranks third in the NBA in offensive rebounds at 4.0 per game, and in the past 10 games, he has averaged 5.4. "Those are pretty doggone impressive numbers," Gentry said after the Suns held shootaround in preparation for their game against the Wizards on Sunday. "I think McGee is one of those guys, I think he's really improved. I think you could have an argument that he should be in the running for most improved player."

In his Weekend Dime, ESPN.com's Marc Stein wrote about how well members of Team USA have played this season after competing in Turkey last summer. Stein mentions Westbrook, Love, Rudy Gay, Tyson Chandler and Lamar Odom as players who have benefited from a USA Basketball bump.

McGee was among the last cuts before the team headed to Europe, but he is averaging career highs in every statistical category. He's averaging 10.6 points and 8.7 rebounds. He's among the league leaders in blocked shots (2.79, second) and field goal percentage (59.1, third).

McGee has been playing better basketball since he was forced to sit the entire fourth quarter against Chicago on Nov. 13. Since then, McGee has been averaging 13 points and 10.9 rebounds. After blocking five shots against Portland, McGee ranks second in blocked shots at 2.79 per game. He also joins Marcus Camby and Dwight Howard as the only players with a blocked shot in every category. Gentry felt that McGee should remain among the league's best in that category for some time.

"Offensively, he's still a work in progress, but he's gotten a lot better in that department," Gentry said.

Gentry also had an astute assessment of Andray Blatche, who is averaging 20.7 points and 8 rebounds in his past three games. "Blatche has always been a real refined player, it's just the level that he decides to play at that night," he said. "When he's locked in and playing at the level where his ability is, he's very difficult. He can put the ball down. He's a really big guy. He can step up and shoot jump shots."

By Michael Lee  | December 5, 2010; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  JaVale McGee  
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Next: Open thread Wizards (6-12) at Suns (10-9)

Comments

Who's Alvin Gentry? Oh yeah, a nobody.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 5, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Alvin Gentry? You do not know him?
He is much better than Flip. He is one of the best coaches in offense.He is good in utilizing player talent .Last year He picked 2 unknown big men and game them identity.What does flip do so far? He is not yet able to use the two most talented forwars AB abd JM, I do not see how he is improving JW.

Posted by: gtefferra | December 5, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

BTW, was checking on another query and noticed Javale is currently 48th in defensive rebounding, at 4.7, just behind a group that includes Rudy Gay, Danny Grager, Mike Dunleavy, Sam Dalembert and Marc Gasol. Blatche is 35th on the same measure. On the offensive end, McGee is 5th, right behind Noah, and Andray 25th. So when Gentry says Javale is a force on the offensive boards, he's absolutely right.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 5, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Mr. Gentry is planting a seed in McGee's mind just in case the Wizards screw up and let him get away.

There is even some posters here that would like to see a dead footed post up player in the paint for the Wiz's rather than one like McGee whom might turn out to be every bit as good if not better than John Wall as one poster pointed out last night.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 5, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, since you can't actually watch any Wizards games (by your own admission) in San Diego but comment on them constantly anyway, smokin' all that grass must be how you keep in touch with the team.

Posted by: KTV1 | December 5, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

KTV1,

That's why my posts are usually about Ernie or Flip and not about specific plays or games unless I watched them.

Someone doesn't need to watch every game to realize that Flip and Ernie are jokes or to see the roster is filled by players who wouldn't even make a good teams roster.

Look at the Knicks, last year thet dumped players (like Ernie did) to try and get LeBron and when they didn't get him they signed Stoudemire and Felton, they also drafted Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari and they are going to make the playoffs.

Now that's the way to rebuild a team.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 5, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Alvin Gentry was 2 wins away from coaching in the NBA Finals last season DC_MANN88. A lot of people felt the Suns had no shot of playing into June.

You're disdain for JaVale clouds your thought process dude. Stop hatin' just to hate.

Posted by: elfreako | December 5, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I have no issue with Javale whatsoever (well beside his stupid gestures and salutes) and I actually believe he is one of only 2 rebuilding pieces in this team but taking a comment from an opposing coach on gameday seriously is delusional at best. Coaches always prop opposing teams/players before games. One of the reasons is respect/courtesy/usual media gibberish and another reason is if his team takes a beating, at least he would have somewhat planted seeds and prepared fans that they played a good team with renowned players.
Flip is a master at it....

Posted by: Utilityman1 | December 5, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Look at the Knicks, last year thet dumped players (like Ernie did) to try and get LeBron and when they didn't get him they signed Stoudemire and Felton, they also drafted Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari and they are going to make the playoffs.

Now that's the way to rebuild a team.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 5, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

A much better rebuild (although not the best) achieved without having the luxury of 3 1st round draft picks and the luck of hitting the jackpot in Wall!
Ernie is just absolutely awful!

Posted by: Utilityman1 | December 5, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

"Alvin Gentry? You do not know him?
He is much better than Flip. He is one of the best coaches in offense.He is good in utilizing player talent .Last year He picked 2 unknown big men and game them identity.What does flip do so far? He is not yet able to use the two most talented forwars AB abd JM, I do not see how he is improving JW.

Posted by: gtefferra | December 5, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse "

Who's not better than Flip?

How many rings has Alvin won? If he answer is "none," you don't have to respond.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 5, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

So only like 4 coaches have the right to analyze a players skills? No one other than Phil, Pop, Doc and Larry Brown? DC_MAN...you my friend are a hater. Gentry is a good coach and his praise of McGee is a good thing. Who do you like on this team?

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | December 5, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

BTW, was checking on another query and noticed Javale is currently 48th in defensive rebounding, at 4.7, just behind a group that includes Rudy Gay, Danny Grager, Mike Dunleavy, Sam Dalembert and Marc Gasol.

Shouldnt we compare him to other Cs? He's 17th amongst his peers, DEFINITELY needs to do better but not exactly horrible right?

KH is 30th amongst SGs. Gil is 7th amongst PGs...but isnt he really our SG despite where ESPN lists him? Nick has to be at the very bottom of any reb list no matter what you consider him.

3-4 more rebs per game puts the Wiz middle-of-the-pack in rebounding instead of bottom of the barrel. Those few rebs are lacking at spots 1-3 on this team, not 4-5.

Javale and Dray are average overall rebounders and need to improve, but it's being so undersized at 2/3 that has us amongst the leagues dregs for rebounds.

Posted by: divi3 | December 5, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

And the idea that Javale cant hold position for defensive rebounds is pretty silly. How does that work exactly? The guys that cant keep him off the offensive boards somehow muscle him on the other end? Of course not. If he wasnt compensating for the lack of perimeter and interior D exhibited by Gil/KH/AB he'd be a monster on the defensive boards as well.

Afterall, why is the Javale the only guy blocking shots on the team? AB is 28th amongst PFs for blocks while Javale is 2nd in the entire league. The notion it's because Javale is looking for style plays is absurd, he's covering for subpar defense elsewhere

Posted by: divi3 | December 5, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

"So only like 4 coaches have the right to analyze a players skills? No one other than Phil, Pop, Doc and Larry Brown? DC_MAN...you my friend are a hater. Gentry is a good coach and his praise of McGee is a good thing. Who do you like on this team?

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | December 5, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse "

Let's not overhype the value of Gentry's opinion. Surely, it's not worth a thread topic.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 5, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Not worth a thread topic. Does that make the comment less than true or valid? Why would any Wiz Fan belittle a NBA, any NBA coaches positive comments about any of the Wiz's players?

Why would they do that DC_Man88? Wouldn't you think a Wiz Fan would welcome a comment like that DC?

What gives Chocolate City?

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 5, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

The Utha coach did not win shampionship,according to you assesment... he is noting.Gentry is a young coach who did way beyond his expectation in his one year coaching.His team with limited talent is still wining.Our flip had a wining history with good teams,i do not see him as a go to coach to a young team like washington.He does not have any clue about player development,he allways tell us about CG who is a double double pro since his 1st year in NBA.

Posted by: gtefferra | December 5, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Gentry is a young coach who did way beyond his expectation in his one year coaching...

OK. You're obviously talking out of your behind.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 5, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Another thing about motivation and leaders. There have been many comments here that since these Bballers make millions and it isn't college, that they must be self motivated and coaches can't really motivate them. Rah Rah speeches and all that stuff don't mean crap, yada yada yada.

Apparently those of you that haven't met true and great leaders are of that opinion.

For I can unequivocably tell you that no team or anyone can acheive the ultimate without true superior leadership. Those of you that think a bunch of self motivated players will achieve anything without great leadership are clueless.

Flip Saunders took over a championship Team but he could not lead them to a championship again because he lacks great leadership.

If all it took was self motivation, then what about Gilbert? Can you find anybody that has more self motivation than him? Probably not. But what Gilbert has lacked is great leadership. He hasn't had it yet with the Wizards. I pray that Ted Leonsis finds it soon.

Enough Said.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 5, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

"Alvin Gentry was 2 wins away from coaching in the NBA Finals last season DC_MANN88. A lot of people felt the Suns had no shot of playing into June.

You're disdain for JaVale clouds your thought process dude. Stop hatin' just to hate.

Posted by: elfreako | December 5, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse "

So he didn't make the Finals last season? Ok, thanks for proving my point.

I love JaTravel, but that doesn't absolve him from criticism.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 5, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

"Not worth a thread topic. Does that make the comment less than true or valid? Why would any Wiz Fan belittle a NBA, any NBA coaches positive comments about any of the Wiz's players?

Why would they do that DC_Man88? Wouldn't you think a Wiz Fan would welcome a comment like that DC?

What gives Chocolate City?

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 5, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse "

What's up PG's finest? The Black Bloke Bama!

Gentry's words and $1 might buy you a cup of coffee at 7-11.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 5, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

"Gentry is a young coach who did way beyond his expectation in his one year coaching."

Posted by: gtefferra | December 5, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Gentry is 56 years old in his 10th season as an NBA head coach. And prior to taking over a very good Phoenix team, he'd posted better than a .500 record once in his career (and that was in a year where he took over 2/3 of the way into the season).

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 5, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

"And the idea that Javale cant hold position for defensive rebounds is pretty silly. How does that work exactly? The guys that cant keep him off the offensive boards somehow muscle him on the other end? Of course not." posted by divi3

They are different. Most rebounds are defensive rebounds, because the defenders are closer to the basket. Defensive rebounds are also more likely to be taken below the rim, so positioning is key. A certain type of strength, usually associated with the lower body, is a big help in establishing defensive position. Of course height is always an advantage.

Offensive rebounding is probably the more athletic task. Because there's usually a defender between the offensive player and the basket (and trying to stay there), the offensive player has to be quick enough and strong enough to get around him and into position before the defender can reset his feet. Where a lot of defensive boards are taken below the rim, offensive boardwork rewards the 'quick hops' that allow the player to chase the ball and propel it back towards the hoop.

"If he wasnt compensating for the lack of perimeter and interior D exhibited by Gil/KH/AB he'd be a monster on the defensive boards as well."posted by divi3"

Maybe not. We don't know whether Javale is doing all that jumping around because he feels he has to, or because he wants to. We do know that it frequently leaves him out of position for a defensive rebound. You're offering one theory. You didn't provide any supporting evidence, so we can't evaluate it.

"Afterall, why is the Javale the only guy blocking shots on the team? AB is 28th amongst PFs for blocks while Javale is 2nd in the entire league. The notion it's because Javale is looking for style plays is absurd, he's covering for subpar defense elsewhere." posted by divi3

He could be trying to block shots simply because it's what he does best. That's what he said about his game when he was drafted, anyway. He's most comfortable in that role, certainly more than he is with the pushing and shoving that goes on inside. He doesn't really have an offensive game except putbacks, so that's not real satisfying for him.

Divi's mind is made up and discussing this with him is a bit like asking Newt Gingrich for his opinion of Obama's healthcare reform. You already know what he's going to say. I'll be accused of shilling for management or Kirk or whoever. So this is purely for purposes of clarification.

Posted by: divi3

Posted by: Samson151 | December 5, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

"Flip Saunders took over a championship Team but he could not lead them to a championship again because he lacks great leadership."

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 5, 2010 8:12 PM

And, once again, you demonstrate your ignorance of all things Pistons (or, perhaps, of all things in general; can never be sure with you).

Saunders didn't "take over a championship team." The Pistons won the title two years before he took over, then lost in the Finals the following season. So unless he took over the Spurs, then the team he started coaching in 2005-06 wasn't a "championship team" any more than this season's version of the Celtics are a "championship team" two years removed from actually winning a title. People act like the Pistons were supposed to win the title for 5 years straight. Given that pretty much everyone was shocked the first time they won, the idea that they were somehow fated to do it over and over again seems rather strange. Even stranger when you consider that the Spurs have never won back-to-back titles. But somehow the Pistons were supposed to do it, without a single dominant franchise-caliber player?

He took over a contending team, and they played like a contending team under him. But being a contending team doesn't guarantee actually winning a title.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 6, 2010 1:27 AM | Report abuse

Wow, JaTravel really proved to Alvin tonight that he deserved all that praise.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 6, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

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