General Manager Nico Harrison hoped adding depth at the center position would give the Dallas Mavericks the edge it didn’t have last season.

Instead, it bogged down the rotation.

After taking a swing at JaVale McGee, despite trading for Christian Wood earlier in the offseason, it appeared as though the Mavericks were waiving the white flag on the 15-year veteran center. But in Dallas’ 127-99 victory over the Denver Nuggets, McGee played some of his best basketball yet. He scored 10 points and blocked two shots. He was also a plus-11 while on the floor. And for what feels like the first time all season, there was a reason for excitement regarding what McGee brings to the table.

JaVale McGee’s struggles

McGee was brought to Dallas to start. He’s now often times cheering from the bench. Collecting a handful of DNP-CDs or occasional bench minute spurts. However, that isn’t changing his approach to his job.

“I don’t really have an understanding of when my minutes will come, but I’m a professional, so whatever my team feels we need to win,” McGee said. “If they feel I shouldn’t be starting, I’ll cheer from the bench. If they feel like I should start or however many minutes they think I should play, I’m going to play them my hardest.”

JaVale McGee blocks a shot
Nov 10, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) blocks Dallas Mavericks center JaVale McGee (00) first-half dunks attempt at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Though no change in approach, McGee’s struggles are emblematic of a larger issue plaguing Dallas’ roster — the need for Luka Doncic to do everything.

On the year, McGee is averaging  4.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while the Mavericks are -20 with him on the floor.

As head coach Jason Kidd continues to tinker with the rotation, McGee will have to prove himself again. It’s been a fall from grace for the veteran center. He came to Dallas on a promise. He now has to play his way back into the lineup.

Related Dallas Mavericks reading

“Mavericks: Why some wins feel like losses.” 

“Jason Kidd on what needs to improve.” 

“Youth movement leading the way.” 

Feature image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports