JaVale McGee was able to get two rings and a lifelong mentor out of his time with the Golden State Warriors, but said it was another NBA legend, not Steph Curry, that he preferred as a teammate.
McGee opened up about his time with the Warriors during a recent AMA on Bleacher Report, discussing the influence that his time in the Bay had on his career. While McGee said he learned a lot both athletically and professionally, he admitted that he enjoyed playing for a rival team even more.
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McGee Picks LeBron over Curry
McGee was asked who he enjoyed playing with more, Curry or LeBron James, and came up with a specific answer.
“I would probably say LeBron the first year I was on the Lakers,” McGee responded.
It may not come as a surprise that McGee had fond memories of the 2018-19 season. It was the first year on the Lakers for both he and James, and McGee averaged a career-best 12 points per game to go along with 7.5 rebounds. He also started 62 games that year, the most since he started 75 with the Washington Wizards back in 2010-11, his third season in the league.
The 2018-19 season itself could have been a bit more forgettable. The Lakers finished 10th in the Western Conference with a 37-45 record, but improved significantly the following season. McGee started all 68 games he appeared in the next season, though had a lesser role on offense as he averaged close to half what he had the previous season — 6.6 points per game. But that season also helped deliver his third NBA title after winning with the Warriors in 2017 and 2018.
McGee did take a lot out of his time with the Warriors, saying he met a career mentor in Andre Iguodala.
“He taught me to be more of a professional when it comes to not just basketball, but investing and off-the-court things. He really helped me,” McGee said.
Playing with Curry
McGee is not the first Warriors player — current or former — to express some hesitancy about playing with Curry. Even Warriors veteran Damion Lee, who is also married to Curry’s sister, has mentioned that it can take some adjusting when learning to how play alongside him.
“Steph’s one of the most unique players that has ever, ever played in this game,” Lee told Ali Thanwalla of NBC Sports Bay Area. “Not only his ability to shoot and score, but everyone sees how he can impact the game from off the ball. So it definitely is a learning curve and it takes guys time to really get adjusted to how he plays, but it’s just a matter of knowing your spots, knowing what you can pick, where you can score, where you can be effective and then it’s kind of an easier transition once you kind of figure that out.”
As Thanwalla noted for NBC Sports Bay Area, even some of Curry’s more accomplished teammates have gone through a learning curve when playing alongside him. She noted that Kevin Durant took some time adjusting to the Warriors offense in 2016, and Kelly Oubre Jr. had his own bumps last season.