Despite the arrival of defensive-minded big men Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee remains an imposing presence in the area for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Last year, former Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee was a revelation for the Los Angeles Lakers, as he was a major contributor both on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
He averaged career-high 12 points, while on the other side he was a force for the Lakers with two blocks per game in 22.3 minutes. For a long stretch, he led the league in blocks per game in the first half of the season.
This season JaVale’s blocking production is down to 1.2 swats per game, but this does not mean his defensive game is declining. The reason for the reduction is a limited playing time due to the addition of three-time defensive player of the year, Dwight Howard, and former MVP and DPOY candidate Anthony Davis.
McGee still held the starting role for LA, though riding a reduced 16.6 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes his blocks rise to 2.6 per game, not far from the 3.2 of last year.
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However, his defensive rating is at a career-high 97, while he is 10th in the league in Defensive Box Plus/Minus.
His presence in the restricted area keeps having an impact on opponents’ percentages. JaVale ranks 17th among centers in opponents percentage inside 5 feet, allowing just 53.9 percent, while he is 13th in field goals defended at rim percentage among centers who have played at least 10 minutes in at least 10 games.
The Lakers’ top-NBA defense owes a lot to its big men. Patrolling the area, contesting and blocking shots and discouraging penetrations and actions around the rim is an essential part of today’s defense.
The 7-foot McGee is at the top of the league in that regard, contributing majorly to Lakers’ starting lineup’s effective defense with a strong effort in limited playing time.