JaVale McGee visualized himself on Suns while watching NBA Finals

Sep 8, 2021, 4:02 PM
United States' Javale McGee takes a rest during a men's basketball practice at the Tokyo 2020 Olymp...

United States' Javale McGee takes a rest during a men's basketball practice at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in Saitama, Japan, Thursday, July 22, 2021. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

It isn’t just a fan exercise to watch a team and visualize how a certain player could fit in with that group.

As a player with his season over and on his way to unrestricted free agency, that’s what center JaVale McGee was doing during Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks.

The eventual signing by the Suns was at the game in Phoenix and was able to see where he could potentially play a role.

“I was definitely looking at, ‘OK, they’ve got Deandre (Ayton) on [Giannis Antetokounmpo]’ but Deandre is a young guy, so he hasn’t had that experience, especially against a player like Giannis seven games in a row,” he told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo Wednesday. “Obviously, he’s a former MVP, a lot of people can’t stop Giannis. But I definitely felt like that backup center position could have been a lot stronger, to where at least when Deandre got in foul trouble, there was another big body to contest the rim and protect it.”

While the Suns got productive minutes out of Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky as reserve bigs, neither player possesses a skill set to be a presence on the interior like McGee can be. And in those Finals McGee watched, Phoenix was without Saric, who will miss the majority of the upcoming season as well after tearing his ACL.

The 13-year vet McGee will give Phoenix a shot-blocker off the bench it didn’t have last year.

“On the momentum [scale], I’ve always felt like a dunk is just the most momentum you can have in a game. If somebody dunks the ball, that just turns up the crowd, that turns up the offensive team to even go harder,” he said of his approach on protecting the rim. “They’re like, ‘OK, that’s what time we on.’ But at the same time, if someone going up for a strong dunk full force and then someone comes and blocks it, that defensive force can change the whole game also.

“So my concept has always been I don’t care who’s going to dunk or what’s happening, I’m going to try and contest that dunk.”

McGee joins the Suns with three NBA titles to his name, so he knows what to look for when it comes to contenders. The 33-year-old likes the amount of potential still left for Phoenix because of how far it got with a young roster.

“Just from, look at last year, they made it to the Finals. So obviously they can do it,” he said. “I feel like that piece of confidence in all these young guys is gonna grow and grow and grow because most of these guys are extremely young. So you’re like, ‘Oh wow, they’re making it to the Finals at this young age, they’re getting it at this age.'”

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) and guard Chris Paul celebrate during the first half of Game 5 ...
Wills Rice

ESPNRank: Chris Paul, Devin Booker are top 15 NBA players for 2021-22

As the 2021-22 NBA season quickly approaches, Phoenix Suns guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul were once again regarded as some of the best players in the NBA, this time in the annual NBARank by ESPN. The ESPN panel this week released its best players for 2021-22 and placed Booker at No. 15 and Paul […]
1 day ago
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 03: New Orleans Pelicans assistant Michael Ruffin before the New Orleans ...
Arizona Sports

Suns add new assistant coach Michael Ruffin to staff

The Phoenix Suns on Friday announced the addition of assistant coach Michael Ruffin to Monty Williams' staff.
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns guard Langston Galloway (2) reaches for the ball in front of Washington Wizards center...
Arizona Sports

Langston Galloway joins Warriors on training camp deal, per report

Langston Galloway, who played for the Suns last season, has reportedly agreed to join the Warriors on a training camp deal.
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul warms up before Game 5 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Milwauk...
Arizona Sports

Chris Paul teams with hoops hall of fame for HBCU double-header in Phoenix

Chris Paul has helped plan a basketball series at the Phoenix Suns' Footprint Center between historically Black colleges and universities.
2 days ago
In this June 7, 2021, file photo, Brooklyn Nets guard Landry Shamet (20) passes the ball as Milwauk...
Kevin Zimmerman

Landry Shamet happy to land with Suns’ fitting style and ‘idol’ CP3

Landry Shamet has lived a good NBA life, even as he readies to play for his fourth team when his fourth season starts.
2 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, left, and guard Chris Paul (3) walk on the court during the second...
Wills Rice

Suns’ Chris Paul, Devin Booker crack Sports Illustrated’s top 20 players of 2021-22

After an NBA Finals run this offseason, Chris Paul and Devin Booker were named in Sports Illustrated's top 20 players of 2022.
2 days ago
JaVale McGee visualized himself on Suns while watching NBA Finals