The Los Angeles Lakers have one of the league’s most explosive athletes at the center position in JaVale McGee. Unfortunately, McGee also has asthma, which is probably why the Lakers were able to sign him for the veteran’s minimum despite what he has shown he can bring to team.
However, McGee doesn’t see his condition, which restricts his breathing as a result of narrow and congested airwaves, as a pressing issue, and he told Kyle Goon of the OC Register that he doesn’t want to be asked about it anymore.
It’s well-known that the Lakers’ 7-foot center has asthma, and he takes a puff from an inhaler before every game. But the 30-year-old would like people to stop referencing the condition in relation to his minutes.
“Stop bringing that up like I’m out here wheezing and having asthma attacks,” he said in a controlled but impassioned postgame declaration. “I’ve never had an asthma attack in my life. I feel like that’s definitely lowered my value as a basketball player.”
In his 10-year career, McGee has stayed around 23-25 minutes per game, only averaging more than 25 minutes per game twice prior to this season, but through five games with the Lakers, McGee’s asthma hasn’t been an issue.
In fact, McGee played nearly 32 minutes on Friday against the Denver Nuggets, the most he’s played in a game since the 2012-13 season, as our own Laker Film Room pointed out following the game.
It’s unlikely head coach Luke Walton plans on playing him close to 30 minutes per game, even with the Lakers’ need at center, but McGee has shown he doesn’t need big minutes to be effective on the floor.
In 25.4 minutes per game this season, McGee has put up 17.2 points on 62.7 percent shooting from the field. His field goal percentage is the highest among any player in the NBA attempting at least 10 shots per game.
McGee is also averaging 7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.8 blocks per game. DeAndre Jordan, Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis are the only other players averaging at least 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks per game this season. Three out of those four players have made All-Star appearances within the last five years.
Fun fact: Jordan struggled with asthma early on in his career as well.
McGee might not make an All-Star team this year, but he’ll continue to get meaningful playing time if he keeps this level of production up. If the only concern for Walton is playing him too many minutes, McGee is in a good spot. Even if he doesn’t want to be asked about his minutes, or asthma, anymore.
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