LAS VEGAS – On a night when Klay Thompson torched every defender he saw and Kevin Durant dazzled a sellout crowd, the most satisfying sight for the Warriors and their fans was JaVale McGee throwing down dunks and rejecting shots.
The world knows what Thompson can do, and it has long been aware of Durant’s offensive wizardry. McGee is another matter entirely.
The NBA is curious about the 7-foot center. It has questions about him. It’s waiting to see if the Warriors can prod McGee into unlocking the best of what he has to offer.
He provided a few glimpses Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena, a few steps off the Vegas strip, where the Warriors put away the Lakers early and hung on for a 112-107 victory that pushed their preseason win streak to four.
There were the two blocked shots that wowed the crowd. There were the 12 points in 14 minutes, on 6-of-10 shooting. And there was the dunk.
Or perhaps we should say The Dunk, for it was the most emphatic highlight of the evening, a massacre of the defense put forth by Lakers forward Thomas Robinson that brought most of the audience, including the Warriors, out of their seats.
“He did some great things,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “That dunk was obviously spectacular.”
Rookie guard Pat McCaw dribbling along the right baseline, whistled a pocket pass to McGee, who grabbed the ball while rolling toward the rim and with his right hand flushed it over a leaping Robinson, giving the Warriors a 108-96 lead with 3:40 left.
“Earlier in the game, I wasn’t rolling as aggressively and coach (assistant Jarron Collins) told me to keep rolling,” McGee said. “So I rolled, and Pat passed it to me and I went up and dunked it. It was just a dunk.”
It wasn’t "just a dunk," and McGee knew it. He paused upon landing to admire his work, before hustling back on defense to block an Anthony Brown jumper 13 seconds later.
This is the kind of sequence that has made McGee so intriguing throughout his eight-year career. He is that rare 7-footer capable of chasing down shooters and also vaulting into the stratosphere to power down lobs.
He also has played for four different teams, with mixed results. Waived in July by the Mavericks, McGee was shopping for a team before signing a non-guaranteed contract with the Warriors two weeks before training camp.
“He’s so athletic,” Kerr said. “We’re just trying to give him a chance and get him comfortable and see what he can do, and we’ll see how it all goes.”
McGee, 28, realizes he is running out of opportunities. He hopes to make enough of an impression on the contending Warriors to nab their final available roster spot.
“It’ll mean everything,” he said. “I’m definitely trying to bring my talents here and help the squad win another championship. That’s all I’m really focused on, doing whatever I have to do to be the one that helps them.”