Not all of the 2018 NBA free agency signings made by the Los Angeles Lakers worked out well but one that did — for the most part — was JaVale McGee.
Though there were certainly some down stretches for the 2018-19 NBA season, McGee had a career year in his first season in Los Angeles.
Early on in the season, McGee was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and although some injuries and a bout with pneumonia hurt him during the middle, he rediscovered that form down the stretch of the season. Now as a free agent, McGee is likely in line to land himself an improved contract, but he is operating as if nothing has changed.
McGee sat down with Chris McGee of Spectrum SportsNet and said his mindset heading into the offseason is the same as it has always been:
“It’s definitely not different. The only difference is I’m coming off my best season in my career. I’m going in with the same hungry mindset that I’ve always been. To work hard this summer, get as much in as I can, make sure I’m staying positive, and I’m keeping my body right.”
McGee played in 75 games for the Lakers while averaging 12.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks while shooting 62.4% from the field. Most importantly, he averaged 22.3 minutes per game, his most since 2012 and only the third time in his career that he averaged more than 20 minutes in a season.
That is something McGee has spoken about previously as many have said that his asthma prevents him from playing major minutes and he has said that isn’t the case. McGee wants to play as much as possible, but does take pride in the fact that he has always contributed regardless of the number of minutes he plays:
“I’m definitely happy, I wouldn’t say satisfied. I know I can do more with the minutes I was allotted. I feel like I used it to my advantage. I’ve always had a great per-36, so I’ve always been efficient with the time I’m given.”
The question now is whether McGee will return to the Lakers for the 2019-20 season. He has been open about wanting to stay with them and has even given a message to potential free agents thinking about coming to the Lakers.
Whether it is with the Lakers or another team, McGee remains focused on improving himself and contributing in whatever way he can. It is why he has been able to have a career that has lasted this long and will continue on for many more seasons.