Sophomore JaVale McGee and Robin Lopez are currently quite close in ranking as the second-tier centers. NBA-Draft.com takes a deeper look at this draft position battle…
Former University of Nevada Center JaVale McGee and former Stanford Big Robin Lopez are likely names to be called in the mid-to-late first round of the 2008 NBA Draft, but their exact draft positions vary- ranging from 13 down to the last first round according to some. So which Big is better?
This past season, the 7'0", 240 pound Forward/Center JaVale McGee was named to the Second Team All-WAC, as well as the league's All-Defensive Team for Nevada. He led the league in blocked shots (2.8 bpg, 14th nationally), ranked second in rebounding (7.3 rpg) and ranked tenth in scoring (14.1 ppg). He has good potential, but is raw, both physically and mentally. Just 20 years old, he still has plenty of maturation to do- filling out his long, slender frame and continuing to develop his offensive repertoire. He has a good face-up game out to 15', but won't be very effective with his current post moves next year. On the defensive end, his extremely long arms (7'6" wingspan, 9'6 ˝" standing reach) allow him to be a formidable force on the court. He alters his opponents' shots just by his mere presence in the paint and picks up the remaining rebounds to hand to his guards.
The weaknesses of the Nevada Big revolve around his work ethic and work outs. His team workouts seemed impressive enough to place him in the first round, but his conditioning and skill set have come under question. McGee been outplayed and out-hustled, which isn't exactly what scouts and execs have been looking for from this mid-major player. But still, his size and athleticism are impressive. Talk is that his workouts have been stepped up recently (over the past week or so) and when teams look back at his game film, they will see flashes of his potential. Against powerhouse North Carolina, McGee had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks and in a loss to Utah State, McGee posted 15 points and 12 rebounds (9 offensive!).
The other Forward/Center, Robin Lopez, earned Honorable Mention All- Pac-10 and a spot on the Pac-10's All-Defensive Team as a sophomore. On the season, he averaged 10.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots (second in the Pac-10). After scoring double-digits only 6 times in the first 21 games (8.8 ppg), Lopez reached double figures 11 times in the last 16 games (11.4 ppg). Lopez ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in offensive rebounds, grabbing 8 against UCLA and 10 against Cal.
Lopez isn't and won't be a star player in the NBA, but he could be a stellar role player. He is a high-energy, athletic, Forward-Center who can run with the guards on fast break opportunities. He has a bit of a "nasty streak" in him as he is a physical rebounder and a shot blocking factor on defense. Just like McGee, he is developing offensively. He doesn't post as strong as his brother, Brook, or demand the ball for scoring opportunities. But he can score in transition and follows shots well for put-backs.
Both 7-footers are known for their strong defensive games and blocking abilities, and less for their offensive abilities. It is their defense play that will separate them on draft night. The one seen with more upside and more NBA offensive power will have his name called before the other. Look for former Nevada Forward-Center JaVale McGee to be drafted in the mid-first round, before the former Stanford twin, Robin Lopez.