(Originally posted at Upside & Motor)
Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears first reported on Sunday that the Golden State Warriors have reached an agreement on a 10-day contract with James Michael McAdoo. The 6-foot-9 forward also received interest from the Memphis Grizzlies, which likely pushed Golden State into adding him to the roster. The Warriors currently have no minutes available and aren’t in pressing need of an emergency option at his position, yet they’ve invested 658 minutes in his development through their single D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and don’t want to see another team collect a potential reward.
As he reaches the NBA (for now, at least), McAdoo concludes one of the most unlikely paths to the pro level I can remember. He was a highly touted prospect out of a high school, and rated by Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony as a potential lottery pick when he enrolled at North Carolina. His freshman season was spent mostly by backing up Tyler Zeller and John Henson but he was still valued highly had he opted to declare for the draft. Yet, McAdoo elected to return to Chapel Hill. His stock consistently declined over time and after a couple more years, he went undrafted.
In his 20 D-League appearances, McAdoo impressed by leveraging his athleticism into production. He’s a fluid runner in transition and has even flashed the ability to handle the ball on the break. Those ball skills were also on display on face-up drives, where McAdoo was able to get to the rim against this level of competition due to his long strides but struggled to get separation and finish around length. Most important for his fit on the next level, perhaps, is that he flashed some passing instincts on post-to-post action and entering the ball from the foul line to Ognen Kuzmic on high-low action, assisting on almost 10 percent of Santa Cruz’s scores when he was on the floor.
In the fast-paced, three-point oriented environment of the D-League, Santa Cruz stands out as one of the teams that focuses on running some semblance of a half-court offense and go to the post from time to time. McAdoo got touches in the block quite often but struggled to set deep position due to a lack of core strength and was often pushed closer to the wing for his catches. When he got his shot off, the touch on those finishes was only OK. McAdoo has flashed an outside shot, both off the bounce and on a couple of three-point attempts from the corner, but it’s not much of anything at the moment and accounted for just 31 of his 234 total attempts, per NBA.com.
The vast majority of his scoring came around the rim, where he was superb. McAdoo is a good scorer out of the pick-and-roll. He’s not a great screener, with on-ball defenders managing to navigate around his picks without much struggle due to his lean frame. But he has soft hands to catch the ball on the move and can play above the rim as a target for lobs, finishing his 203 attempts at the basket at a 63 percent clip. McAdoo also played with very good energy on the glass, and was able to reach the ball at a higher point than the average competition he faced thanks to his leaping ability, collecting 10 percent of Santa Cruz’s misses. As a constant threat around the goal, he also drew shooting fouls at a high rate and converted them well.
His value on the other end also came around the rim. One would assume McAdoo, due his mobility, could be a versatile defender who provides his team with the flexibility of trapping pick-and-rolls way high on the perimeter or switching comfortably, but that’s not the case at the moment. Santa Cruz had him guard the ball-screen flat, dropping to the foul line, and Jermaine Taylor drove around him rather comfortably on several occasions. What McAdoo does best is use his quickness rotating off the weak-side to protect the rim. He has proven able to play above the goal as a shot blocker, leading the D-League in total blocks (52) and averaging 2.8 per 36 minutes.
Protecting the glass, McAdoo relies on his athleticism to track the ball off the rim quickly and outjump the competition rather than box out diligently. That worked fine in the D-League, enough for him to collect 19 percent of opponents’ misses, but it’s something he will need to tighten up at the next level.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.