JaVale McGee was one of the more pleasant surprises for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2018-19 NBA season as he showed he could handle a larger workload and was an early NBA Defensive Player of the Year candidate before a bout with pneumonia sidelined him.
It took some time for McGee to shake his issues, but once it happened, he ended the season looking much like the player the team saw at the outset of the season.
The Lakers rewarded McGee by re-signing him on a two-year deal and he is ready to prove that last season was no fluke now.
McGee has been working hard and recently spoke with Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet about what he’s been working on heading into 2019 NBA training camp:
“I’ve been working on the same things. Just getting strong, staying strong, getting in my best shape and best condition. Making sure that I can run the floor, rim run, and block shots and be a defensive presence as I’ve been.”
One thing that has been great with McGee is he has always understood his role. The 31-year-old knows where he thrives and he is looking to simply be the best in those areas which is why he is focused on that.
Of course, McGee has spoken in the past about being able to knock down some three-pointers and says that his jumper is still there, but only if head coach Frank Vogel calls for it:
“I mean, of course. If coach draws it up, I’m ready. My shot is there. But I know my role, and I know what I’m here for. I’m here to run the floor, be a vocal person on defense just because I’m the anchor of the defense and just making sure that I’m in the spots I need to be at especially with the great players that we have.”
One of the bigger questions heading into training camp is who will be starting at center. McGee has been open about expecting to be the team’s starter, but he will have to battle with Dwight Howard for that role.
Whether McGee starts or comes off the bench, he will play a big role for this Lakers team. He understands the things he does well and what he must bring to them and has worked hard to be ready for what they hope is a long season.
If McGee can build on his play from last season, it would go a long way towards helping the Lakers achieve their ultimate goal of winning the 2020 NBA Finals.