DENVER (AP) — Among the topics JaVale McGee considers himself well-versed: Netflix shows, cryptocurrency, investments and technology as it relates to the new iPhone.
“I’m really versed in the world of a lot of things,” he said.
Go ahead and add winning NBA rings to that list, too. The 7-footer has been a part of three championship teams over the past four seasons.
McGee believes his newest Denver Nuggets castmates have that possible championship makeup, especially with the additions of athletic forward Aaron Gordon and himself at the trade deadline.
“This team has all the pieces,” McGee said Saturday as he prepares for his second stint with the Nuggets after being acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers. “A lot of things have to go right, but I feel like we have all the pieces for it to go right.”
First order of business — meshing.
Time is of the essence, too, for McGee and Gordon to get on the same page with All-Star center and MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, along with point guard Jamal Murray. It will have to be an adjust-on-the-fly deal since practices are scarce in this condensed season. The Nuggets (27-18) are currently fifth in the Western Conference standings.
“I don’t think it’s going to take me long to get up to speed,” said Gordon, who was acquired along with Gary Clark from Orlando for guard Gary Harris, rookie R.J. Hampton and a future first-round pick.
Ditto for McGee.
“It’s not really that complicated,” said McGee, who was brought in from Cleveland for center Isaiah Hartenstein and two second-round picks. “For me, it’s easy to mesh with anybody.”
The Nuggets went to the Western Conference finals last season before losing to LeBron James and the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers, which also included McGee. Before that, McGee was part of two Golden State teams that won behind Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant & Co.
“I’m just trying to make sure that I bring that championship pedigree,” McGee, 33, said. ”Just every day, make sure I’m doing the right things, just setting the example.”
This is a team that marches to the rhythm of Jokic, the big man who’s having the finest statistical season of his career in averaging nearly a triple double (27.2 points, 11.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists). The Nuggets didn’t want to squander this sort of season in what appears to be a wide-open West.
“At the moment he’s the best player in the world. And he’s a guy that should continue to raise all of our bars,” said Tim Connelly, the Nuggets president of basketball operations. “We’re doing right by him because he’s certainly doing right by the organization with his play.
“There are a lot of teams that have the ability to go win it all and I’d like to think we’re one of them.”
Before making moves that might disrupt team chemistry, Connelly consults not only with coach Michael Malone but Murray and Jokic. Connelly values their input.
“It’s saved me several times from making mistakes,” Connelly said. “It’s important that they have ownership over that locker room.”
Gordon brings another layer of athleticism to the roster, along with an ability to cover the best wing players in the game. It’s a role he relishes — and one of many he will be asked to fill by the Nuggets.
“We all have a mutual understanding — just to be an athletic slasher, runner, cutter, facilitator, spot-up shooter and tenacious defender,” Gordon said.
As for blending in with Jokic, that’s easy for Gordon: Simply break toward the rim and the Nuggets big man will find him.
“I’m just here to make his job easy,” the 25-year-old Gordon said. “His passing ability is incredible. I think my passing ability is slept on.”
This is definitely a different sort of team than when McGee was around the first time. He spent parts of four seasons in the Mile High City before being dealt to Philadelphia in February 2015.
The perceptions of Denver have certainly changed over the past six years.
“I feel like now, on the scouting report it says, ‘You better play hard or this team is going to destroy you,'” McGee said. “I feel like we got even better with the addition of me and Aaron, of being a team that people look on the calendar and they know this isn’t going to be an easy game.
“I’m really excited of the things to come.”
AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.
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