Welcome to our Phoenix Suns Season in Review series where we do individual PLAYER REVIEWS of every man who contributed to the 2021-22 season. We go through the list to analyze what went well for them and what they can do to improve for next season.
Check out all the players covered so far here: Phoenix Suns 2022 Player Reviewsstarting with Cameron Johnson.
- Position: Center
- Vital signs: 7’0″ tall, 270 pounds, 34 years old
- Experience: 13th NBA season, 18th pick in the 2008 draft
- Stats: 9.2 points per game, 15.8 minutes played in 74 games (17 starts), 62.9% total shooting, 6.7 rebounds, 1.1 blocks.
Take a look at how we’ve reviewed JaVale since joining the Suns last season.
Regular season recap
For the most part, we knew what we were getting with JaVale when he signed with the Suns: an NBA journeyman with championship experience that enters the back nine of his career. The last time the Suns saw McGee was when his Denver Nuggets were swept from the 2021 Western Conference Semifinals at the hands of Phoenix.
McGee joined the Suns and instantly provided the big-man depth the team lacked in the 2020-21 season. He brought with him a veteran presence that was welcomed not only by his teammates but also by the fan base. The productivity he provided exceeded expectations, and when given the opportunity to start, he put in many solid performances.
No performance was greater than when JaVale had the opportunity to start against the Boston Celtics on Dec. 10, 2021. He had 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a 21-point thrashing of the team that would become the eventual Eastern Conference champion.
Of course, there were times when McGee was outplayed, outplayed, and made silly plays. This is just part of the “JaVale McGee experience”. He’s not a strong perimeter defender – like many NBA secondary centers – but it was his energy and tenacity that played a vital role in helping the Suns reach a franchise-record 64 wins.
It was a two-series story for McGee in the 2022 playoffs.
Against the New Orleans Pelicans, a team that possessed size on the inside, JaVale played 11 minutes per game, but they had a lot of impact. He scored 8.3 points and had 3.7 boards in his limited game. In the par 36 world, that equates to 27.1 points and 12.1 rebounds. It is effective when called upon. He shot 80.8% from the field during the series.
He scored 15 points in Game 3 and followed that up with 14 points in Game 4.
When he faced the Dallas Mavericks, however, his effectiveness was negated by the Mavs’ five-out strategy. He played six of seven games, averaging 11.3 minutes. His total points fell to 5.2 per game while his rebound increased to 4.3. His field goal percentage, like many of his teammates, also dropped, as he scored on 58.3% of his attempts.
Of course, who could forget that McGee gave us the last real big moment of the 2021-22 season? He undresses Luka Doncic, initiates the fast break and brings him home.
The greatest strength
experience and size.
He’s an NBA player who’s seen a lot in his time, and while he can’t always be on the court due to matchups, the expertise he brings is appreciated. His energy on the bench and ability to piss off the team before every game is legendary.
McGee’s efficiency, combined with Bismack Biyumbo’s productivity, has fueled the flames of those opposed to Deandre Ayton’s return with max money. The central position, in this offense, is plug-and-play from their perspective.
The size provided by JaVale was something we hadn’t seen in Phoenix from a bench center since the days of Steven Hunter. You merge that with his experience, and some have argued that the Suns have the best one-two combo over centers in the NBA.
When the opposition plays five out, you’d better think JaVale McGee is becoming the sucker. We found that in the playoffs when he was kicked out every chance the opposition had. It’s just a product of modern gaming.
JaVale excels in a traditional format, and throughout an 82-game regular season, his value is bolstered because of it. As the season progresses with injuries coming, having a savvy veteran like McGee is critical to a franchise’s long-term success. The Suns took advantage of his presence.
What to work on
JaVale doesn’t have much to do because he is what he is. You don’t need him practicing his off-season perimeter shot; that is not where its value lies. He can’t improve his lateral quickness and it’s one of those skills you either have or don’t have, especially as a 34-year-old center.
JaVale signed a one-year contract entering last season worth $5 million. He fulfilled his obligation to the Suns while simultaneously increasing his market value. It will be interesting to see if the Suns bring him back, but all signs point to JaVale wanting to return.
JaVale McGee says he will consider re-signing with the Suns:
“Really consider it… At this point in my career, I’m definitely focused on myself and what’s best for me, my situation and my family.” pic.twitter.com/b3Y31FKtbV
— NBA stream (@_nbastream_) May 30, 2022
Time to rate JaVale’s 2021-22 season.
- Overall rating as an NBA player: C+
- Pre-season expectation score: B+
How would you rate JaVale McGee’s year in Phoenix, including the playoffs?
In an effort to raise awareness of his foundation, McGee organized the Water for Life charity softball game on June 22 at Chase Field. The event will feature some of our favorite Phoenix Suns players like Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges, James Jones and Cam Payne.
If you are interested in attending, Click here.