The genesis for this post was spurred by a comment made by someone else, a person who wishes to remain anonymous -- the point being that we can't take credit for this original thought.
Okay, JaVale McGee comes out of Nevada as a 20-year-old sophomore and is selected by the Washington Wizards as the 18th pick in the 2008 NBA draft. His draft specs:
- 238 pounds, after leaving Nevada at a supposed 228
- possessing a 7-foot-6-inch wingspan
- very raw offensively
- better defensively at 'help' shotblocking than defending his own man
- a to-be-developed upper frame -- he gets knocked off balance too easily -- but the addition of more pounds won't negate his marvelous physical skills
So what did McGee accomplish in his initial NBA season?
- played in 75 games, 15.2 minutes a contest, averaging 6.5 points a night
- shot .494% from the floor, .660% from the foul line
- averaged 3.9 rebounds a contest along with 1.0 blocks
Rolle is 23 and will turn 24 next season. At 6-foot-10 and 200 plus some change in pounds, the numero uno question is will he gain further weight (and therefore strength) if he hasn't done so already? Is there some physical upside remaining? Also, he would also be a power forward in the NBA -- not a center like McGee. But curiously Rolle posted much better numbers when he moved into the middle after center Kenneth Cooper was dismissed from the LT squad.
In just above 28 minutes a game this past season, Rolle averaged 12.2 points per game, 7.2 rebounds a contest and blocked 1.7 (52) blocks versus opponents. He shot .530% from the floor and .654% at the foul line.
The knock against Rolle, as it was with McGee, is consistency. Can he/will he produce every time out? What is holding him back from doing so?
Yet one NBA draft observer we communicated with offered this: "Rolle is a better athlete [than McGee]. He isn't as physical or quite as long, but is a 7-footer who can really move. He is also a much better shooter as well."
As we wrote in an earlier post, Rolle seems at least somewhat similar to ex-North Carolina big Brendan Wright, now with the Golden State Warriors. Wright, 6-foot-10 and 210 played but his freshman season in Chapel Hill, was the eighth selection in the first round and has played two seasons in the NBA. He's averaged 14 minutes a game, playing in about half of Golden State's contests. Suffice to say, the jury remains out on his NBA career despite amazing athletic prowess.
Another similar body type, Anthony Randolph of LSU (curiously Rolle's ex-alma mater), played in 63 games during his initial NBA season also with Golden State, averaging just below 18 minutes a contest. At 6-foot-11 and 215, he also came out after his freshman year.
So why so much love for McGee yet Rolle is being dismissed as a player who should return to college for his senior season? We don't think Rolle is going to get any bulkier in his remaining season although a final season would allow him the opportunity to demonstrate that he can be counted on for 17-18 points a game, 10 or so boards and a few blocked shots.
So what are we missing here?
Also, New Mexico State fans will enjoy this tidbit. From a February 2004 Jerry Meyer-penned Rivals article comes this: "Coach Sears [Rolle's coach in the Bahamas] was also very complimentary of a couple mid major programs that trusted in Sears’ belief in his budding star, who only learned to play the game two years ago. “Western Illinois was the second school down here,” said Coach Sears. “[Assistant coach] David James really listened to me early on when he really had no reason to. New Mexico State is another school that has been here from the beginning.”