Denver Nuggets’ Aaron Gordon, JaVale McGee ready for expectations after arrival
Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee were introduced to the media Saturday and both men made one thing very clear: It’s time to bring a title to the Mile High City.
“That’s the goal, and if that’s not the goal, you’re playing in the wrong sport. You shouldn’t even be in here. If it’s not the goal to try to win an NBA championship then you ain’t ready,” McGee said. “I feel like this team has all of the pieces [to win]. I feel like they [the front office] did a great job of putting these guys together and I feel like, with the addition of me and Aaron, we have a championship pedigree.”
Gordon echoed those thoughts.
“It feels great. Being able to play in meaningful games just allows me to just go all out every night and expect nothing less than a win,” Gordon said. “That expectation and pressure is something I look forward to being a part of.”
Gordon was the centerpiece of the Nuggets' busy trade deadline while the team added McGee for his experience as a three title-winner and rim protection. The team's defense appeared to be the focus for the Nuggets when deciding to pursue Gordon and McGee.
“I think [Gordon is] one of the most underrated defenders in the league,” Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly said Friday. “I think he has a chance to be an all-league defender. He’s extremely competitive, a guy with a big-time work ethic. So, for all of those reasons, he was a very attractive guy that we thought could help us. I don’t think there are many guys in this league that has his defensive upside.”
After struggling with rim protection over the past few seasons, McGee serves as a welcome addition. The veteran has averaged 1.5 blocks during his career.
“He brings championship level experience. He knows what it takes. No one else in our room has been where he’s been. He’s been there several times,” Connelly said. “He’s an elite rim protector [and] he’s one of the best lob threats in the NBA.”
Both Gordon and McGee are expected to make their debuts Sunday evening against the Hawks. After spending years in Orlando, Gordon is excited for a change of scenery.
“I think the style of play fits me a lot better,” he said. “I think I can help a lot of guys out around here with my play as well. I think I’m going to benefit just from getting a restart.”
It’s McGee’s second stint with the Nuggets, having previously played with the organization back in 2012-15. He can speak to the vast improvement that has been made during Connelly’s time with the organization as compared to when he left in 2015.
“Six years ago, when we would beat good teams, it was a surprise. It would be like ‘oh we weren’t expecting that,’” McGee explained. “I feel like now this team is more of on the scouting report, it says ‘you better play hard or this team is going to destroy you.’ I feel like we got even better with the addition of me and Aaron…I’m just glad to be here and I’m really excited about the things to come.”