clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ranking the Warriors’ Assets: James Michael McAdoo has a chance to earn his keep

Injuries have shortened the frontcourt rotation, and in that challenge lies opportunity for McAdoo to carve out position on the depth chart.

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

The GSoM community is ranking the Warriors' players, but we're doing it "Survivor" style, eliminating one player per poll, until we've decided who is the most valuable to the Warriors in 2017 and beyond.

We're referring to the players as "assets." As such, voters are reminded to consider age, salary, injuries, production, potential and overall value to the team (as either a player or trade piece) when making their selections. Basically, you're part of the front office, and it's time to cut the next player.

In his brief NBA career, James Michael McAdoo has shown flashes of brilliance amid a sea of forgettable minutes, DNP: CDs, and time on the injured reserved. Since signing then Santa Cruz Warrior McAdoo in January 2015, the Warriors have drafted Kevon Looney and Damian Jones in back-to-back draft classes.

This positional competition for minutes might seem like bad news for a player who already has struggled to lock down consistent playing time, but a variety of injuries and rehabilitation from surgery have affected those two draft picks, meaning McAdoo has the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to Kerr and Co. that he can be relied upon as a consistent contributor in the 2016-17 season.

McAdoo’s comparative advantage comes in his versatility, a trait Kerr puts a high premium on in switch-heavy defensive schemes. Listed at 6-foot-9, 230 lbs., with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, the University of North Carolina product has the size to guard opposing bigs, as well as the agility and lateral quickness to stay with a guard off the switch.

He put this on display during the preseason loss to the Toronto Raptors, holding his own against a much larger Jared Sullinger in the post while staying in front of a euro-stepping DeMar DeRozan in transition. He picked up the All-Star shooting guard several times on switches and did a good job guarding one of the craftier players in the league. McAdoo showed his foot speed with two long closeouts against Sullinger and Patrick Patterson that resulted in two misses from beyond the arc. McAdoo also does a good job of keeping track of his man while also surveying the rest of the defense in case he needs to rotate.

The biggest question mark on McAdoo’s defense is his defensive rebounding. His 10.9 defensive rebounding percentage (DRB%) in 2015-16 was good for 12th on the team, and the lowest of any forward or center. He has all the physical tools to at least rebound at a league average level, if not slightly above that. Part of his low rebounding numbers may be because fronting his taller, wider, or stronger matchups in the post leaves him exposed to being boxed-out and outmuscled for the board. Sullinger and Jonas Valanciunas easily dislodged him from the post on battles for defensive boards, but against two of the bigger bodies in the league, McAdoo did enough other things well to be a small positive.

On the other side of the floor, McAdoo has room for improvement. He relies on others to get the vast majority of his looks, with most of his shots coming within two feet of the basket (70.5 percent in 2015 and 64.3 percent in 2016). Despite hours of practice with Ron Adams and the collective prayers of Warrior fans, McAdoo’s jumper has not progressed into a reliable part of his repertoire. He is at his best when he can play above the rim and be rewarded for his cuts to the basket. While scoring may not be his strong suit, McAdoo contributes to the offense in other ways, such as by using his large frame to set picks on and off the ball, a major trademark of the motion offense.

The other dimension to McAdoo’s value is his age: he turns 24 in the middle of the season. He is a young player with an opportunity to earn a big pay day when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the 2017 offseason. After renouncing his rights in the blood ritual necessary to get Kevin Durant, the Warriors signed McAdoo in a one-year, $980,431 deal, putting the NBA and D-League champion in a contract year and adding yet another source of motivation.

With Looney on limited minutes and Jones’ exact return date still up in the air, McAdoo will have a little less competition for playing time, which means semi-consistent burn, at least in the early half of the season.

McAdoo has a unique skillset particularly suited to a team like the Warriors. Sure, there are parts of his game that are not particularly developed or refined, but he excels at the things he can do, and on a contract that is less than a million dollars, he doesn’t have to play too well to create value. With barely seven hours of NBA game time logged over two seasons, it’s hard to judge his worth based on counting stats. While box scores might not do him justice, watch him closely this coming season and you will see a smart player with the ability to guard multiple positions and create space using screens and cuts to the basket. Just don’t blink or you might miss it.

On to the next selection!

It's election season and time for your voice to be heard! If you had to lose one of the remaining players forever, which one would it be? Vote in the poll and tell us why in the comments.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Golden State of Mind Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Golden State Warriors news from Golden State of Mind