JaVale McGee is proud of the way he has performed for the Lakers.
The 31-year-old center is averaging 11.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and two blocks in his first season in Los Angeles. He’s also playing 22.3 minutes per game, his highest mark since 2011-12.
McGee signed a one-year deal with the Lakers last summer and will become a free agent after 2018-19.
“I feel like there was a belief that I couldn’t play more than 10 minutes in the league because of asthma or because of anything,” McGee told the Los Angeles Times this weekend. “I feel like I broke that stigma this year, showing that I can play 30-plus minutes if given the time and be efficient. I definitely think I’ve proved something this season.”
While McGee has had a bounce-back season, the Lakers have struggled. They opened with a 20-14 record, but star LeBron James missed the next 17 games after straining his groin Dec. 25 and the team never regained momentum.
The Lakers were officially eliminated from playoff contention in late March and shut down James to help him completely recover from the injury. They have two games remaining on their schedule.
“These games don’t matter in the standings, but they matter to still show people you’re professional and play the game the right way,” McGee said. “You can’t go out there and start acting crazy just because the games don’t mean anything.”
Lakers coach Luke Walton also praised McGee’s play.
“He’s been good,” Walton said. “He looks a lot like he did earlier this season, playing with energy, putting pressure on the rim offensively, blocking shots on it defensively. He looks good right now. Those are meaningful numbers that he’s putting up.”
The Lakers will host the Jazz on Sunday before closing the season against the Trail Blazers at the Staples Center two days later.