The Los Angeles Lakers looked to be stacked at every position except at center prior to the 2018-2019 NBA season.
After signing LeBron James, the Lakers went out and shored up their perimeter positions by signing Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson while bringing back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. However, Los Angeles also brought in JaVale McGee to be their starting center.
Even on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal, there were questions about if McGee would be productive with Los Angeles given he had played in a mostly reserve role in recent seasons. Despite the skepticism, McGee has played above expectations and has become a legitimate contributor for the Lakers.
James reportedly had a huge influence in bringing him to Los Angeles, according to Tim Reynolds of Associated Press:
“I played against him in the last two NBA Finals and I wanted him on this team because I know what he brings,” said James, who lobbied the Lakers to get McGee. “It’s his energy, his energy level, his ability at the rim and his ability to protect the rim. If you don’t have that on your team, you’re not going to have much, man. You need to have people with a high IQ, which he’s got. That’s why I wanted JaVale to be part of this.”
McGee revived his career with the Golden State Warriors as he provided solid backup minutes. Now, in an expanded role, the two-time champion has established himself as a formidable force in the middle.
McGee’s ability to rim run and defend the basket has been invaluable to the Lakers and is a key reason why they are above .500 for the 2018-2019 NBA season. Even with Tyson Chandler on board, McGee has proven to be near irreplaceable given his production.
Nearly a couple of months into the season, the purple and gold have begun to really hit their stride. Hopefully, they can continue to play good basketball when they next take on the San Antonio Spurs.