Los Angeles Lakers Player Spotlight: JaVale McGee

Lakers (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Lakers (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) /

JaVale McGee has been a member of the Los Angeles Lakers for two seasons and is a key component of the team’s title aspirations.

The next player that will be covered in the “Los Angeles Lakers Player Spotlight” series is JaVale McGee.


JaVale McGee attended the University of Nevada. In his freshman season, he did not start in a single game and was only given an average of ten minutes per game. However, after he was given the starting spot in his sophomore year, McGee began to shine.

In this season, he averaged 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds. An interesting aspect of JaVale’s college game that did not quite carry over to his professional career was his three-point shooting. In his last season with Nevada, he took 1.4 threes a game and shot 35.6% from three in his college career.

McGee was selected 18th overall in the 2008 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards. He spent four years with the Wizards before he was traded to the Denver Nuggets. He spent three seasons with the Nuggets before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. With the 76ers, McGee only played six games before the team waived him.

After the 2015 season, JaVale signed with the Dallas Mavericks where he spent a season before being waived. He then signed with the Golden State Warriors along with Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016. This began the most successful run of McGee’s career where he was in and out of the starting center position of one of the best teams ever constructed.

He went on to win back to back championships in Golden State before joining LeBron James in signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018.

For the past two years, McGee has been the primary starting center for yet another contending team in the Lakers. Another interesting arc of his career was his frequent appearances on Shaqtin a Fool, a program where NBA analysts covered bloopers and low lights from the NBA season. McGee was a multi-time MVP of the program, which led to him taking offense with the program.

Strengths and weaknesses

Throughout his career, JaVale has been a great interior defender. His length allows him to clog passing lanes and block opponents shots. This has led to his averaging 1.5 blocks per game throughout his 11-year career.

Also, he is a formidable rebounder both offensively and defensively. Something that he has greatly improved since college.

A weak point of McGee is outside shooting. He lives in the paint on both sides of the ball. This normally is not something that is focused on in the game of a traditional center. However, he showed great potential of being a big that can shoot in college but this is a facet of his game that did not carry over.

What he brings to the Los Angeles Lakers

Although signing McGee was ridiculed league-wide at the time of the signing, he has silenced his doubters. McGee plays the role of center perfectly and is an amazing fit with the Lakers. He is very low maintenance and does not need the ball in his hands to make an impact in the game.

To attest to his value to the team, even with Dwight Howard having a late breakout season, McGee has remained the starting center of the Lakers.

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He will be counted on greatly in hypothetical series against the Rockets and Clippers. Both teams either lack or have inferior big men compared to McGee and it is a matchup the Lakers could easily exploit.