SACRAMENTO KINGS

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 season preview: JaVale McGee

Sep 26, 2023, 12:42 PM | Updated: 12:43 pm

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 20: JaVale McGee #00 of the Phoenix Suns reacts as he is introduced to t...

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It’s about that time.

If you’ve been counting down the days until Sacramento Kings basketball returns, we are less than two weeks away from October 8th’s preseason opener in Vancouver, Canada.

As we prepare for another season of NBA action in the 916, it’s time to dive into this Kings roster and break down each player that will be on the opening night roster.

Today, we’ll look at recently-signed center JaVale McGee, who is in line to log backup center minutes behind All-NBA center Domantas Sabonis.

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How did JaVale McGee perform during the 2022-23 season?

McGee, 35, spent the 2022-23 season with the Dallas Mavericks where he averaged 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks per game while shooting 64 percent from the field over 42 appearances (seven starts).

While McGee logged a career-low 8.5 minutes per game with Dallas in 2022-23, the veteran swatted 26 shots during his time on the floor, which comes out to 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes.

It became clear early in the season that McGee didn’t fit in the Mavericks’ system, with bigs like Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, and Christian Wood receiving the bulk of head coach Jason Kidd’s minutes at the five-spot.

McGee playing sparingly down the final stretch of the season as Dallas attempted to fight its way into the NBA Play-In, but the Mavs fell short and looked to make some roster changes during the summer months.

Dallas waived McGee on August 29th, clearing the way for the three-time NBA champion to sign with another team in free agency.

It didn’t take long for McGee to find a new home as he quickly pivoted and signed a one-year, $3.2 million deal with Sacramento for the 2023-24 season.

JaVale McGee’s strengths & weaknesses

Strengths

While McGee isn’t as mobile as he once was, the big man has been a presence in the paint for contending teams like Golden State and Los Angeles in recent seasons, acting as rim-protector for Kings head coach Mike Brown when both were employed by the Warriors during McGee’s two championship-winning seasons in the Bay.

McGee has proven that he can protect the rim during his time in the NBA, as the seven-footer holds an average of 1.4 blocks per game over 15 years and 863 appearances (343 starts).

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For a team like Sacramento that finished 29th in the NBA in blocks per game during the 2022-23 season, any sort of impact from McGee would be welcomed.

Rookie forward Keegan Murray led the Kings with 42 blocks last season–good enough for 0.5 per game. The Kings need a shot-blocking presence in the paint, and McGee is the best option that was available for Sacramento.

Kings general manager Monte McNair opted to cut ties with young center Neemias Queta and veteran big Nerlens Noel in order to bring McGee in on a fully guaranteed deal, clearing the way for the three-time champion to backup Sabonis at the center spot.

Along with his noted rim-protecting ability, McGee is a player that can clean up around the rim and act as a lob threat for Sacramento to feed in transition.

McGee converted 81 percent of his attempts at the rim during the 2022-23 season, 72 percent in 2021-22, and 67 percent in 2020-21. As he moves along in his career, McGee has cut down on his aggression on offense (taking jumpers, etc.) and been a player that guards can find for lob passes and mismatch situations down in the post.

Sacramento wont run their offense through McGee, and that’s fine. The bench unit runs through Malik Monk, who could develop a strong two-man game with McGee in pick-and-roll sets. If McGee is healthy and his athleticism can be even half of what it was during his time with Golden State, the Kings can benefit.

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Weaknesses

Although McGee has come a long way from his “Shaqtin’ A Fool” era, he still has weaknesses that could rear their ugly heads during this upcoming season.

During his career, McGee has struggled with foul trouble, something that could be problematic if Domantas Sabonis also finds himself on the bench early in games.

Sabonis led the NBA for most of last season in fouls per game before finishing second with 3.57 per contest. McGee has trimmed down his fouling habit in recent years, dropping from 3.2 per game in 2020-21 with Denver to 2.0 per game over the past two seasons.

It will be important that McGee holds things down while Sabonis navigates his own foul trouble, otherwise Brown will have to lean on players like Alex Len and Trey Lyles to patrol the paint.

Father time could prove to be an issue at some point for McGee as well, seeing that the seven-footer is entering his age-36 season. After playing in a career-low 8.5 minutes per game in 2022-23, it will be interesting to see how McGee handles an increased workload with the Kings.

It isn’t expected that McGee will log 15-plus minutes per night, but Sacramento will likely lean on McGee for 10-12 minutes per game to spell Sabonis in the post.

What to expect from JaVale McGee in 2023-24

If there was any uncertainty surrounding whether or not McGee will be a part of Kings head coach Mike Brown’s rotation, The Athletic‘s Sam Amick and Shams Charania shed some light on Sacramento’s trust in the big man.

McGee will arrive with instant trust from the coaching staff, as he won two titles alongside Kings coach Mike Brown when they were together with the Warriors (from 2016 to 2018).

Sam Amick & Shams Charania – August 31, 2023

McGee will have a leg up on the backup center job entering camp, although Brown could call on Alex Len in matchups that need more of a physical presence in the paint and Trey Lyles for small-ball scenarios.

For the Sacramento, McGee’s presence is clear: The Kings desperately need rim protection.

Even if McGee can’t be who he was during his days in Golden State, Los Angeles, or Denver, Sacramento needs a boost down low that can act as a disrupter against opposing offenses.

After finishing 29th in blocks per game in 2022-23, McGee will look to step in and give the Kings a boost in blocks–something that the franchise has been seeking for quite some time.

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule

  • Sunday, October 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 5 PM PST (Preseason Opener)
  • Wednesday, October 11th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7 PM PST (in Anaheim, CA)
  • Sunday, October 15th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
  • Wednesday, October 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
  • Thursday, October 19th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 PM PST

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule

  • Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
  • Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM (Season Opener)
  • Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM (Home Opener)

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