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Warriors season review: James Michael McAdoo

The versatile forward never got traction in a crowded Warriors frontcourt.

2017 NBA Finals - Game Four Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

James Michael McAdoo is one of six players to have both rings from the Warriors’ recent championships. Yet, although he has done nothing wrong, it appears he may be on the way out.

After re-upping McAdoo last year on a one-year contract, the Warriors elected to not tender the qualifying offer to him prior to free agency. This means the Warriors can’t match offers to keep him. More importantly, it signals that the organization is perfectly willing to let him walk away.

This one hurts. For such a marginal player, there was something about McAdoo that caused people to pull for him. As Sleepy Freud said in our Slack chat:

Nooooooooo! I love Big Mac. The latest in the line of “mediocre but lovable Warriors-Tar Heels” that included Antawn Jamison and Harry B ... At least if he leaves he has his two rings to keep him warm. :slightly_smiling_face:

Strengths: defense and versatility

Early in the season, we saw some solid performances from McAdoo, enough so that there was a minor trend pushing the “McBench” moniker — a lineup that also included Patrick McCaw and JaVale McGee. But as the season wore on, McAdoo slipped further and further out of the primary rotation.

The problem?

Every other player did one aspect of his game better. The strength of a player like McAdoo is versatility. He is quick enough to cover guards on the perimeter, yet rangy and strong enough to adequately man the post in a small-ball lineup. At 6-foot-9, with a 7-2 wingspan, McAdoo shows a number of very desirable traits on the defensive end.

But was it enough?

For bench players, it’s often informative for a coach to normalize a player’s statistics over 36 minutes to see what he may look like as a starter. In McAdoo’s case, the averages over his three-year career with Golden State aren’t bad: 13.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals. Any average team would be generally happy with those numbers from a defensive specialist.

McAdoo is also something of a seasoned veteran now. He’s been with the Warriors for three straight seasons, two of which ended with a ring. That’s championship experience is valuable and it will serve him well wherever he ends up.

Lost in the crowd

As mentioned above, in spite of his solid, all-around contribution, it’s really hard to find one thing that McAdoo does better than anyone else on the roster. For rim protection, go with Zaza Pachulia. Dynamic athleticism? JaVale McGee. Versatile stopper who can handle some perimeter play? David West, probably, due to his playmaking and superior shot. It’s really hard to imagine the scenario that calls for McAdoo over any of those other guys.

And this is pretty much the picture that has emerged with McAdoo — out on the edge of the bubble. His highest scoring total in any game this season was 10 points. He never pulled in more than 9 rebounds in a game. He got 30 DNP-Coach’s Decisions. He was good and ready, but it simply came down to the harsh calculus of not being as good as that person in front of him on the depth chart.

In the NBA Finals, Kerr tried to use McAdoo as a rim-protecting big who was agile enough to cover various screen-and-rolls, while still managing something resembling respectable rim protection. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t maintain traction. He was able to generally stay around plays, but seemed to do little to actually favorably affect the outcomes.

The Warriors only have so many contract spots to use on non-rotation players. At this point, the team has seen enough to know what to expect with McAdoo. The writing was really on the wall when the Warriors bought into the recent draft and selected Jordan Bell in the second round.

Bell’s hallmark? Bob Myers stated:

“We love his ability to defend. He can probably defend most positions. ... That’s huge.”

And since it was a pick that they used cash to secure, the Warriors are going to guarantee Bell’s contract, which has huge implications for McAdoo’s future in Oakland.


There was some joking in the moderators’ offline chat about lumping this season review in with Anderson Varejao’s, as both players seemed to find their way into Steve Kerr’s good graces, even when traditional stats — and eyeball tests — didn’t seem to warrant much confidence.

At only 24, and with two rings on his fingers, it is almost certain McAdoo will get another look from an NBA team.

There’s a certain lovable underdog magic to the players at the very end of the bench. For McAdoo, this magic will travel with him, hopefully to a team where he can live higher up in the rotation. McAdoo stated:

“Everybody wants to play 48 minutes. But when it’s your third year and you’re on the best team in the NBA, it’s tough to complain.”

What do you say GSoM? How would you rank McAdoo’s season?


James Michael McAdoo’s season

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    A - Couldn’t have asked for more!
    (126 votes)
  • 18%
    B - Well, it went better than expected, I guess.
    (160 votes)
  • 48%
    C - Nothing exploded, and he didn’t cost us the Finals!
    (414 votes)
  • 15%
    D - Not gonna miss him.
    (134 votes)
  • 2%
    F - I honestly would rather have Anderson Varejao.
    (19 votes)
853 votes total Vote Now

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