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Laker Film Room: JaVale McGee’s strong preseason

The Lakers need JaVale McGee to deliver this season, and he’s been a natural fit with the team’s shot creators.

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NBA: Preseason-Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

“I block shots, I dunk on people, and I get out the way.”

JaVale McGee knows who he is and why he’s here. He compared his feelings about playing alongside the Lakers’ multitude of ball-handlers to “being at a Vegas buffet” and he’s been feasting off of the opportunities that they create for him.

McGee’s Preseason Play Types

  • Cutter.......1.13 Points Per Possession (30% of his overall possessions)
  • Roll Man...1.30 Points Per Possession (20% of his overall possessions)
  • Transition...1.80 (!) Points Per Possession (10% of his overall possessions)

Let’s take a closer look at McGee’s strong preseason.

McGee’s screens are a welcome relief after years of poor efforts from Lakers’ bigs in that aspect of the game, and they create opportunities for both himself and his teammates. His athletic ability is easy to identify, but he doesn’t get enough credit for his understanding of passing angles. He “banana cuts” to the basket on his rolls, allowing him to linger in passing windows for more extended periods of time.

He’s been solid defensively, although not without flaws. He becomes mostly floor-bound if an offensive player initiates contact with him first and misses the occasional hedge on pick and rolls, but his shot-blocking (2.8 swats per-36 minutes in the preseason) has helped to ignite the Lakers’ fast break, where he thrives as a rim-runner.

The Lakers need JaVale to have a big year. He’s the only reliable center that they have, but it’s been five seasons since he last played more than 15 minutes per game, and the degree to which that can increase is questionable due to an asthmatic condition.

Still, McGee has averaged 20.4 minutes in the preseason while sitting out most 4th quarters as starters customarily do, so if he’s capable of sustaining that workload, it will go a long way toward answering one of the most concerning questions for the 2018-19 Lakers.

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