NBA Free-Agency: 3 Center Options if Jonas Valanciunas Fails to Return to Memphis Grizzlies

Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images /
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Memphis Grizzlies NBA Free-Agency Jonas Valanciunas
The Memphis Grizzlies should consider JaVale McGee in NBA Free-Agency if Jonas Valanciunas bolts (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

JaVale McGee

One veteran rental option at the center position that makes sense for the Memphis Grizzlies is JaVale McGee, who is coming off of a veteran’s minimum contract as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The 31-year-old McGee started in 62 of 75 games played with the Lakers in 2018-19, and continued to show his importance at the five-spot after two seasons spent with the Golden State Warriors.

JaVale McGee may not have panned out to be the NBA All-Star center in which many had envisioned him to become when he was drafted in 2008. Still, he has become an above-average starting center for high-quality teams. He is strong and athletic around the rim, and he is not afraid to throw some elbows and display grit in his game. He fits the mold of a Memphis Grizzly.

In 22.3 minutes per game this past season, McGee boasted numbers of 12.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. He finished third in the regular season in field goal percentage with a jaw-dropping 62.4% accuracy. On top of it all, JaVale ranked 12th in the entire NBA in defensive rating.

Imagine a front line of McGee, Jaren Jackson Jr., and a small forward option of Kyle Anderson. While this trio does not scream offense (outside of Jackson Jr.), you will be hard-pressed to find a greater three-man defensive group. Opponents would have to depend on heaves from the outside in order to put any points on the board.

Much like Willie Cauley-Stein, JaVale McGee is a player that does not look to clog Jaren Jackson Jr.’s working space. McGee is a glue guy more than anything, and relies upon blocking out, grabbing rebounds, and scoring off put-backs. He is much less ball-dominant than Jonas Valanciunas, and this could really unleash scoring dominance for Jaren in his sophomore season.

While JaVale McGee took a pay cut last year to play with LeBron James in Los Angeles, he is a big man that should come with a rather low price tag in NBA Free-Agency. He is due for a pay raise, but it should be a far cheaper option than Jonas Valanciunas.