North Carolina sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo was almost an after thought last season playing behind the likes of Tyler Zeller and John Henson but that all changed this year when they headed to the NBA along with Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall, McAdoo now has a ton of weight on his shoulders to be “the man”.
McAdoo himself flirted with entering the NBA Draft after a strong month of March when Henson injured himself increasing his playing time and opportunities and when he came back he was immediately given the torch of the next big man on campus, the guy who would lead Carolina to the promised land, the reason the team would simply reload instead of rebuild.
The pressure has obviously gotten to the talented big man who understands what his responsibilities are, the problem is he’s just in too much of a rush to fill them. McAdoo has to slow down and take better shots in the half court and learn to let the game come to him instead of trying to force things so much.
It is true the Tar Heels do not have any other player who has stepped in as a guy that can take over and assert his will on the offensive end (although it looks like P.J. Hairston could be that guy soon) but what the Heels do have is a bunch of efficient offensive players. McAdoo has had more opportunities to shine than any other player on the roster averaging a team high 28.6 minutes per game and taking a team high 166 field goal attempts. Yet he ranks just seventh on the team in FG%, for a team that struggles to get to the foul line a big man with the ball in his hands as much as McAdoo hasn’t helped. Although he has a team high 63 free throw attempts that’s just 4.84 per game and he’s shooting just 61% from the line.
McAdoo needs to be more patient when he receives the ball and stop rushing his shots, pound the ball in the paint and get to the line. Few big men in college basketball have the speed and quickness to stay with McAdoo but playing at that speed 100% of the time is making his game predictable and easier for lesser athletes to defend.
If McAdoo can learn the patience to let the game come to him and pick and choose his spots and learn when to use that quickness he could be very deadly. Perhaps his greatest offensive weapon this season has been his quick turnaround baseline jumper, no need to go away from that, if he has the position on that part of the court that move is deadly and extremely difficult to defend. When he receives the ball away from the basket or in a tough position in the post is when going at 100 mph is a problem.
McAdoo has a decent jump shot, but that’s not his game and he’s taking that jumper from 15-17 feet away from the basket far too often and always too quick. He’s terrific at driving the lane but he’s choosing to attack without assessing his options, learning to pick when to drive to the basket and when to kick it out after one or two dribbles is a hard thing to do sometimes.
Sometimes the transition from role player to star player is an understated one and I think everyone including myself expected McAdoo to grow up too quickly. This is an extremely talented young man, one that won Team USA player of the year twice in high school and was a top prospect coming into college, plenty of NBA teams would have picked in the lottery without thinking twice about it because he is that good. The silver lining in all this is the fact that while he hasn’t been perfect he has played well and he has done some very nice things for Carolina this season. This adjustment is mental, if it were all physical McAdoo would be fulfilling those preseason All-American honors and would be making a play for national player of the year right now.
Many observers have commented that so far Reggie Bullock has been the teams best player and don’t necessarily disagree with that statement. The fact however remains that in order for this team to go far it’s going to have to be on the back of James Michael McAdoo he just needs to slow down a bit.