This season with the Los Angeles Lakers, JaVale McGee has established himself as one of the best shot blockers in the NBA. The best shot blocker in the NBA statistically, as a matter of fact.
Through 10 games this season, McGee is averaging a league-high 3.4 blocks per game and has the highest block percentage (77.3 percent) among any player that has logged at least 200 minutes this season.
It’s led teammate LeBron James to stump for McGee for Defensive Player of the Year, and while much of his early success can be attributed to the 7-footer’s length and 7-foot-6 wingspan, McGee was quick to credit the coaching staff following his five block performance against the Dallas Mavericks on Halloween night.
“I feel like I’ve been consistently blocking shots,” McGee said. “The coaches are putting me in defensive positions to block shots, so I’ve been successful out there.”
In spite of McGee’s elite shot blocking, the Lakers are allowing a league-worst 59 points per game in the paint. That interior defense, along with their struggles on the perimeter, was reportedly one of the topics covered in the heated meeting between team president Magic Johnson and head coach Luke Walton on Tuesday.
Adding Tyson Chandler should give the Lakers another big body to protect the paint, but the team’s struggles on defense go beyond what Chandler can offer alone.
However, hearing McGee credit the coaching staff for his hot start to the season is a good sign that Walton can bring out the best in at least a few of his players. The hope now is that the rest of the team buys in so they can start winning games on a consistent basis.
The Lakers are 4-6 to start the season.
It’s unlikely they’ll be a top-10 defensive team like Walton wants them to be, but if they can get out of the bottom half of the league sooner rather than later, they’ll be in good shape.
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