As a team, the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t exactly been a defensive juggernaut.
However, center JaVale McGee has really been a force in the team’s frontcourt and LeBron James has certainly taken notice. On Saturday, James even went as far as to say that McGee is “a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.”
McGee definitely has gotten off to a great start after coming to the Lakers from the defending champion Golden State Warriors. In eight games this season, McGee has seen a lot more playing time than he did throughout the majority of his two-year tenure in the Bay Area.
The 10-year veteran is currently averaging 15.5 points, and 7.5 rebounds for the Lakers, but his 3.3 blocks per contest are what really jumps off the page when it comes to McGee. He’s registered at least three blocks in six out of the team’s eight games so far this season. The versatile big man has also recorded 1.0 steals per game and has accumulated at least one steal in six games.
McGee has had strong defensive seasons in the past. In 41 games with the Washington Wizards during the 2011-12 season, the he blocked 2.5 shots per contest on the year and also had 2.4 blocks as a member of the Wizards the prior season.
McGee has been a bright spot for a Lakers team that has otherwise been brutal on the defensive end. Los Angeles is yielding 121.1 points per game, which is 28th out of 30 teams in the NBA.
The Lakers are also allowing their opponents to connect on 48 percent of their field-goal attempts from the floor and teams are shooting 38.3 percent from beyond the arc against them. Los Angeles has yielded at least 110 points in each game thus far.
This wasn’t a sensational defensive unit throughout the 2017-18 season, but the Lakers weren’t allowing nearly the amount of points they currently are this season. The Lakers yielded 109.6 points per contest and opponents were shooting 45.6 percent from the field while also knocking down 34.6 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.
James’ comments are certainly interesting to say the least, but they’re definitely not off base. McGee has been tremendously active on the defensive end and has really proved to have a knack for rejecting shots at the rim. While he may not win the Defensive Player of the Year Award when the season is over, he’s certainly playing a huge role for a team that has struggled in that department so far this year.
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