2019-20 Lakers Season Preview: JaVale McGee

2018-19 NBA Season Review

JaVale McGee signed with the Los Angeles Lakers shortly after they signed LeBron James in 2018 NBA free agency. Immediately, McGee became the team’s starting center as his time with the Golden State Warriors helped shed him of his previous image as a joke throughout the league.

McGee almost immediately proved himself to be the right man for the job. In the first 29 games of the 2018-19 NBA season, McGee averaged 11.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks while quickly became a frontrunner for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. However, after that strong start, McGee came down with pneumonia.

McGee only missed seven games with pneumonia but was simply never the same until the final stretch of the season. His points and rebounds slightly increased due to the amount of garbage time minutes being played by that point, but his on-court impact in big games never felt the same.

2019-20 NBA Season Outlook

McGee signed a two-year, $8.2 million deal with the Lakers and will likely spend all of training camp fighting for a starting spot with Dwight Howard. As McGee provides a larger offensive arsenal, Howard provides more stability on defense. Head coach Frank Vogel will likely have to pick what direction he wants the starting lineup to go in based on what center he picks to begin the 2019-20 NBA season.

Should Vogel pick McGee, envision plenty of opportunities for him to get touches off the pick-and-roll with James, Anthony Davis, and whoever the starting point guard is. If McGee can summon back the player that played the first 29 games of last season, there is almost no doubt he will be the starter and make a significant impact for them.

Should Vogel pick Howard, it is likely McGee will share a frontcourt with Kyle Kuzma off the bench, which means he would need to shore up on his defense. On more limited minutes, it is likely the Lakers see a return of pre-pneumonia McGee as he will not expend all of his energy early on in games and be able to provide the defensive stability.

Regardless, McGee will be an important part of what the Lakers do. If Los Angeles commits to playing Davis at power forward, what the centers can accomplish will be massive — and McGee has always been more than ready.