Last season was arguably the best year of JaVale McGee’s career, at least from an individual standpoint. In 75 appearances as the starting center for the Los Angeles Lakers last season, McGee averaged career highs in points, defensive box plus-minus and VORP.
This season has been a little different for McGee so far, both in role and production. McGee is still the team’s starting center, but he’s been thoroughly outplayed by Dwight Howard to start the season and, as a result, is playing more than four minutes less than Howard.
McGee isn’t too concerned about it, though. After the Lakers’ win over the Miami Heat, he said that he wants to do whatever it takes to help his team win.
”Well, a year ago, we weren’t winning,” McGee said. “So it’s your priorities, you know what I’m saying? I want to win. So if that’s what we’ve got to do to win, that’s what we’ve got to do.
”Being in Golden State led to a mindset where I’m not worried about minutes. I’m worried about if these minutes work to win the game, then I’m down for it. If we’re losing and this is happening then it’s a different situation, but you can’t complain about minutes when you’re winning.”
That mindset paid of him for on Friday, when he finished with 9 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high net rating of +62.5 on a night where Howard was struggling to make an impact. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel praised McGee for his role in holding the Heat to a season-low 80 points.
”He was terrific,” Vogel said of McGee. “He starts the game for us and obviously gives us rim protection and length at the basket. Dwight and JaVale are both doing a really good job getting out to the 3-point line as well, and you need that in today’s NBA. That’s the No. 1 3-point shooting team in the NBA and we held them to 17%. That’s five guys committed to that.
“JaVale is keeping balls alive offensively, he’s a lob threat at the basket. You have to guard him down there. He made a big impact in that third quarter, we usually get him out about the six or seven-minute mark, but he was doing so well we rode him down to the three or four-minute mark.”
McGee credited how fast the Lakers have bought in on the defensive end to the veterans on the team.
“I think we’re underrated on the amount of vets that we have,” McGee said. “Our locker room is great, we all hang out, we all talk, we all communicate, there is nobody that doesn’t talk to anybody. So it’s more than just basketball. We’re really friends and we really show it out there on the court that we really support each other.”
Howard showed his support for McGee with an Instagram post after the game:
As long as McGee keeps the same glass-half-full mindset, he should return to form in no time.