JaVale McGee has been nothing short of a revelation in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, as his presence and impact is felt not only when the 30-year-old is on the court but off it as well.
The Lakers addressed that by signing Tyson Chandler after he cleared waivers, pairing the veteran with McGee for an effective rotation at center. But head coach Luke Walton has largely stayed away from Chandler over the past two games.
He did not play against the Detroit Pistons, and only logged 5 minutes in Friday’s loss to the Utah Jazz. McGee, meanwhile, was left to wear the brunt of a Jazz attack that he believed exploited the Lakers’ defensive strategy.
McGee explained his frustration did not stem from Donovan Mitchell throwing down an electric dunk on him — noting he blocked Rudy Gobert at the rim — but rather being caught between showing on Mitchell or playing the lob pass.
Walton spoke with McGee and expressed an understanding of his center’s frustration, though adding his preference is for McGee and other players to handle such a matter internally. Walton also firmly believes in the strategy the Lakers have deployed this season.
“The deep drop is one of our coverages, and when we’re playing it the way we should, we’re actually really good in our deep drop,” he said after practice on Saturday. “Between some of the bigs we have — JaVale, Zu, Tyson — we clog up that paint. We’ve got long perimeter guards to get the back pressure, so it’s one of our better coverages.
“We didn’t do it great last night. They shot a low percentage, but we could’ve done a much better job. To us, as a coaching staff, it’s always, ‘Well, let’s just play our coverage better. Let’s do a better job of what we’ve done pretty well this year.’ We switched the coverage up and had some success with our switching. We’ll move forward and get better.”
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