The Lakers underwent a massive roster overhaul this offseason starting with the addition of LeBron James and it included the signing of JaVale McGee.
Months after landing McGee, James explained why he lobbied to sign the former Warriors star, pointing to McGee’s energy and basketball IQ.
“I played against him in the last two NBA Finals and I wanted him on this team because I know what he brings,” James told The Associated Press earlier this week. “It’s his energy, his energy level, his ability at the rim and his ability to protect the rim. If you don’t have that on your team, you’re not going to have much, man. You need to have people with a high IQ, which he’s got. That’s why I wanted JaVale to be part of this.”
McGee said knowing James wanted him to be a part of the Lakers boosted his confidence.
“He could have said get anybody,” McGee said. “It’s just a reassuring feeling, a confidence-builder I guess, knowing that you’re going into a situation wanted as an option, like you’re really wanted. That’s pretty dope.”
The Lakers have relied on McGee as a starter and he’s delivered, averaging 13.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game while playing about 25 minutes per night, and he’s a big reason the Lakers have won six of their last seven and are now 10-7.
Coach Luke Walton has taken note of McGee’s performance and said the team is happy with how the center has led the team.
“He’s been great,” Walton said. “He’s been professional. He’s taking care of himself. He’s vocal in the locker rooms and the huddles, he’s been producing for us, obviously his shot-blocking has been a big part of us having some success on defense. We’re very pleased with JaVale.”