In what has been a rather anticlimactic end to the season for the Los Angeles Lakers, JaVale McGee has given fans a reason to tune into otherwise meaningless games.
Over the last five games, McGee has averaged 18.4 points per game on a ridiculous 68.9 percent shooting to go along with with 14.4 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game. He’s the only player in the league that has averaged least 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game over the last five games.
McGee has been fantastic, and the way he’s playing now is the way he was playing earlier this season before he was hospitalized with pneumonia. While he was medically cleared to play in late-December, McGee told Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet that he’s just now starting to feel like himself again after the Lakers’ win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday:
.@LakersReporter asked JaVale McGee if his play is as simple as feeling better lately, or if there is anything else:— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 27, 2019
“No, nothing else. Just feeling good, that’s all. People don’t realize once you get pneumonia it takes a couple months to get over it."
Lakers head coach Luke Walton acknowledged that McGee has looked more like the player he was at the start of the season over these last few games.
“JaVale has been playing with a lot of energy right now, and it’s reminding me of how he was to start the season. When he was grabbing rebounds no one else can get, keeping balls alive for us, diving to the rim, all those good things,” Walton said.
In spite of the illness that temporarily derailed his season, McGee is having his best professional season with the Lakers, averaging career-highs in points per game (11.7), Defensive Win Shares (2.6) and Value Over Replacement Player (1.4).
On July 1, McGee will enter unrestricted free agency, where he’s sure to garner a good amount interest from teams looking for cheap help in the frontcourt. Depending on how this summer plays out for the Lakers, they should strongly consider bringing the 31-year-old center back for another year or two.
McGee might not be as big of a name as DeAndre Jordan or DeMarcus Cousins, but he’s arguably just as valuable and is expected to be significantly less expensive. It might not be for the veteran’s minimum, but McGee will be an excellent value pickup wherever he ends up next season.