Many Carolina fans were surprised when star forward James Michael McAdoo returned for his junior season with the Tar Heels. McAdoo was a projected lottery pick in both the 2012 and 2013 drafts, but instead decided to return to Chapel Hill each time to hone his skills under Head Coach Roy Williams. McAdoo will be expected to lead the Tar Heels on and off the court as the team competes for their 30th ACC regular season title . He was very good last year, receiving almost double the minutes he had freshman season and capitalizing on the opportunity with averages of 14 points and seven rebounds. He was also named an All-ACC Second team member by both the media and the coaches. His body of work so far puts him in the conversation for first team All-ACC honors this coming season.
However, like any basketball player, he has his flaws. Sometimes its frustrating to watch McAdoo launch a long jumper with the lane open, or clank two foul shots off the rim. He could be the best player on the UNC roster, but still has yet to accomplish his full potential. Here are three things JMM should improve upon for this coming UNC season.
McAdoo ranked first last season on UNC’s roster in field goals attempted, yet ranked a pedestrian ninth in field goal percentage with a .445. Improving upon the field goal percentage would be a great help for McAdoo’s stats and UNC’s offensive production. A big part of improving the .445 FG% is better shot selection. Last year, around the middle of the season before the small ball lineup change, McAdoo was shooting a lot of fade away jumpers and long twos. If he drives to the basket, or develops more of a post up game, he can become more efficient and force double teams. Improving efficiency would help McAdoo’s game and Tar Heel offense greatly.
JMM shot just .578 at the charity stripe in the 2012-2013 season, a number that leaves some room for improvement in his junior campaign. He did shoot the most free throws on the team, so the frequency is there. He just needs to practice and convert those free points. As he drives to the basket more, teams will foul him and force him to beat them at the line. He needs to show early improvement in the free throws so that by the time ACC season rolls around, he won’t have the reputation of a bad foul shooter. Foul shooting can be improved, especially with a summer’s worth of practice. Don’t be surprised if McAdoo shoots much better in his third season in Chapel Hill.
UNC only has one scholarship senior in Leslie McDonald, so the big responsibility of leadership will fall on the junior McAdoo both on and off the court. The Tar Heels do have a lot of young big men, so just by working hard every day, those younger guys will feed off that energy and work just as hard as him. His work ethic and attitude sets the tone for the entire big man rotation and really the whole team. McAdoo’s experience in his third year, as well as his abilities to lead his teammates, could be the difference between a letdown season for the Heels or an ACC championship.