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1 pleasant surprise standing out for Suns early in 2021 NBA training camp

The Phoenix Suns, defending Western Conference champions, have played two preseason games so far. While the team has yet to be complete, there are already signs that their limited offseason moves have been great for the team, especially JaVale McGee.

McGee has brought size and rim protection to the Suns. Those were key factors Phoenix drastically needed last season, and they might have just found an answer this year. 

The biggest strength that JaVale McGee adds to the Suns is interior defense, which the team could have really used against the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals. He averaged 1.2 blocks and 5.2 rebounds per game last season, which just goes to show that his presence inside has always been felt. He’s not the type of big who requires to have the ball in order to make an impact, as he will bring it on the defensive end as well on most nights.

McGee just showed that in the past two Suns preseason games. 

His presence helps the backcourt of the Suns as well because it’ll lessen the pressure on Chris Paul and Devin Booker to rebound and worry about the team’s interior defense. When a player gets past both Paul and Booker, at least McGee’s height and agility can make up for it since he can find himself at the right place at the right time. That’s the role that has really helped the three-time champion thrive in all the teams he’s been with. 

Look at this clip above, for example. Yes it may be a meaningless preseason 4th quarter sequence, but here’s what McGee’s presence won’t allow. His height alone will be able to guard the basket just because he always seems to find himself parked inside. That helps him prevent the opponents from scoring easily like the Los Angeles Lakers did in this sequence. He may be picked on defense from time to time, but at least what he provides still strengthens the team’s offense. 

McGee is a system-type of player. It’s reasonable to think that head coach Monty Wiliams will be able to put him in the right offensive sets and place on the court. He can set screens for Paul and Booker and roll to the rim to dunk it off against less inferior teams. McGee will easily do this with the Suns because they have enough assets to run quality plays for him. 

Aside from interior presence and scoring, McGee brings championship pedigree to Phoenix. Yes, he’s not a superstar or whatsoever but veterans like him are important, especially since experience plays a huge role come playoff time. He also seems to have never-ending energy, which could go a long way for the team. 

Ultimately, the addition of McGee is great for the Suns and has been a pleasant surprise for them so far just because he adds something they lacked last season. It may just be a small asset, but what McGee contributes can be huge for a Suns squad hoping to get back on top of the mountain. 

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