During the 2016 NBA Finals, most of the nation got its first extended look at James Michael McAdoo, the seldom-seen NBA sophomore from the University of North Carolina. McAdoo got minutes as a fill-in forward, shoring up a rotation that was hampered by the suspension of Draymond Green, season-ending injury to Andrew Bogut, and overall ineffectiveness of Harrison Barnes.
McAdoo didn't disappoint, as he proved capable of switching onto perimeter players, hedging on picks, and retreating to the paint to make a pest of himself.
But judging by the way Golden State used McAdoo this season, its clear that he's anything but a finished product.
A power forward by trade, McAdoo actually lined up as a center slightly more often this season, per basketball-reference (47% to 45%). The Warriors rarely deploy 'two-towers' lineups (those featuring any combination of Bogut, Anderson Varejao, Festus Ezeli or Marreese Speights), so when McAdoo manned the anchor position, he did it without seven-foot backup.
One theory: he's being groomed to be Draymond Green's defensive backup. McAdoo is much taller than Green, but features plus-mobility for his size, a gigantic 7'2" wingspan, a strong vertical leap, and he's wide enough to hold his own at a muscular 230 pounds. Today, McAdoo is one of just two Warriors who even have the potential to defend power forwards and switch onto guards -- and that makes his continued defensive improvement vital.
Offensively, he hasn't shown much, yet. He takes around 90% of his field goal attempts within 3-feet for his career, and looks like a power forward whenever he's dribbling the ball. A three-point shot is far too much to ask, right now. The Warriors would likely settle for a more assertive rebounder (McAdoo was the worst forward or center rebounder on the team by defensive rebounding percentage -- and that group includes Andre Iguodala, Brandon Rush and Harrison Barnes).
But it's tough to get too critical (or too excited) about McAdoo's truncated season. He played just 262 minutes across 41 regular season games, and often found his way on to the court when the game was already decided. But the tools are certainly there, and the Finals were a brief reminder that he still appears to be headed towards being a consistent rotation player -- maybe as early as 2016-2017.