Resurrection? McGee Earning More Minutes From Kerr

OAKLAND – The door to career resurrection, which not long ago began closing, now has opened wide enough for one of JaVale McGee’s feet to slide inside.

Insofar as McGee's shoe size is 18, the 7-foot center has created enough space that the Warriors are considering allowing him into the room currently occupied by starter Zaza Pachulia and primary backup David West.

“He earned some extra playing time for sure,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Saturday, referring to McGee. “We’re still going through different combinations, but he earned the opportunity to play some more.”

Though McGee’s dedication during and after practice has worked in his favor, it was his impact in a win over the Nuggets on Thursday night at Denver that represented an appreciable leap toward earning the faith of coaches and teammates.

McGee played 15 minutes, contributing 10 points, three rebounds and two blocked shots. Several other shots were altered or simply discouraged.

It was McGee’s earliest insertion into a game (he entered midway through the first quarter) and his longest stint of playing time. He’s averaging six minutes per game, while Pachulia is averaging 18 and West 10.

McGee is forcing Kerr to make an adjustment. The coach is pondering a “center-by-committee” approach.

“All three guys have played very well,” Kerr said. “It’s not an easy role when you’re not playing as many minutes, so I’ve tried to give David and Zaza the majority of the minutes right now just to get them comfortable.

“But it’s fairly obvious that all three will play big roles for us this year.”

Pachulia, at 6-11, brings muscle and smarts and the ability to make plays for others. West, at 6-9, offers muscle and smarts and a smooth midrange jump shot. McGee’s assets are length, athleticism and an imposing presence at the rim, dunking lobs on offense and deterring shots on defense.

Playing with the Warriors regulars, as he did against Denver, McGee presents a dilemma for defenses. Do they stay at the 3-point arc to protect against Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, allowing McGee room to slam lobs? Or do they protect against lobs, in which case the shooters have more room to operate.

When McGee, 28, signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Warriors 11 days before training camp, they didn’t know if he’d make the team. He did, latching onto his fifth NBA team.

And now McGee is making a case for bigger minutes. He has come a long way in a short time, much to the satisfaction of the Warriors.

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