Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Kingdom for a Jumper: The James McAdoo Story

James McAdoo ended his college career on Thursday, declaring for the NBA draft after three seasons at UNC. One of the most highly-touted prospects in the class of 2011, McAdoo averaged 14 points and 7 rebounds a game on 47% shooting as a junior - good numbers, but hardly eye-popping.

McAdoo would likely have been a first-round pick if he had come out after his freshman season, when he averaged only 16 minutes a game behind John Henson and Tyler Zeller. After two inconsistent seasons as The Man at UNC, he's currently projected as a late second-round pick by DraftExpress.

You can see where the recruiting hype came from. At 6'9 225 with a 7'1 wingspan, McAdoo is an elite athlete who can literally jump out the gym. He passes the eye test by any conceivable measure - McAdoo is a lay-up line All-American who should test off the charts at the combine.

The only thing separating McAdoo from stardom is a 20-foot jumper. He's far too quick for the majority of big men - if they have to defend him on the perimeter, he can get to the rim in 2 steps. The problem is, without a jumper, defenses can just sag off him and dare him to beat them from the perimeter.

With a jumper, McAdoo could be the next Kenyon Martin. Without one, though, his place in the NBA is far from guaranteed. He's a small ball 4 who can't shoot, pass or post-up - he's very robotic playing with his back to the basket and he doesn't have the size to establish deep post position at the next level.

McAdoo would be best as a backup 4 in an uptempo system, but his lack of a jumper means he would have to be paired with a stretch 5 who could open up the floor for him to dive at the rim. At UNC, he was best as a small-ball 5, but he would be pretty undersized for that role in the NBA, even on a second unit.

So while has the athletic ability to get a shot at the next level, McAdoo can't add much value to an NBA rotation right now. Even if he does end up making an NBA roster, there's a very good chance he ends up playing in the D-League next season.

To stick in the league, he will need to be able to shoot from the perimeter. For James McAdoo, a 20-foot jumper could literally mean tens of millions of dollars.

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