Is James Michael McAdoo an NBA forward?

James Michael McAdoo

Bob Donnan-USA Today Sports

North Carolina Tar Heels forward James Michael McAdoo has had a collegiate career that is well short of his expectations when he first stepped foot on the hardwood floor of the Dean E. Smith Center.  The 6-foot-9 forward from Norfolk, Virginia was highly recruited during his high school days, and was even a projected first round draft pick before he even began his career in Tar Heel blue. Now, it is McAdoo’s junior year, his NBA stock has declined drastically and many question whether or not he can be successful at the next level.

This decline in McAdoo’s NBA value began during his freshman season, in which he was forced to play behind current NBA forwards Tyler Zeller and Jon Henson.  With only about 15 minutes of playing time per game coming off the bench, McAdoo was not given much of an opportunity to prove to fans, and head coach Roy Williams, that he can play up to his projected caliber.  In just one season, McAdoo went from a projected first round draft pick, to a mediocre six point per game bench player that played in the shadows of some of Carolina’s most profound forwards.

When his sophomore season came around, those shadows were no longer in McAdoo’s way.  With Zeller and Henson off in the NBA, McAdoo was called upon to be the Tar Heels’ main threat down low.  Of course, this was a lot to ask from a guy that just spent an entire season coming off the bench, but there were high hopes for this former high school superstar.

Despite his low productivity, McAdoo was once again projected to go high in the draft, and many believed that this low productivity was caused by his lack of playing time and experience in collegiate basketball.  During his sophomore season, McAdoo averaged about 14 points and seven rebounds per game, while playing about 30 minutes in each contest.

Granted, he was a threat down low, but his numbers proved that he was a threat that could be stopped quite handily.  Just about any other big man that guarded McAdoo could push him around like a rag doll, and getting to the rim was about as unlikely as his chances of being a first round draft pick after his freshman season. Now, another season was in the books and the question of whether or not he could make it in the NBA was even more apparent.

It is now McAdoo’s senior season as a Tar Heel and some believe this could be his final season if he plays up to his freshman year expectations.  So far, he has not done much to prove his doubters wrong.  Although he is still playing about 30 minutes per game, his numbers are at a stalemate.  He currently averages about 14 points per game, and his rebounds are at a mere 5.5.

The main downside to McAdoo’s performance has been his free throw shooting, in which he has only shot a little over 50 percent.  McAdoo has become stronger since his freshman year, but whenever he gets to the rim he is fouled.  Opponents do not even mind giving up the foul because the odds of McAdoo’s high floating foul shots going in are slim to none.

In the Tar Heels’ most recent loss against the Texas Longhorns, he shot 5-15 from the line and the team only lost by three points.  If it weren’t for sophomore forwards J.P. Tokoto and Brice Johnson picking up the slack, the Tar Heels would not have any threat on the low post.  If I were an NBA scout, I would much rather draft Tokoto and Johnson than continue to wait around for McAdoo to live up to his expectations.

If McAdoo plans on playing at the next level, he must get strong enough to make it to the rim unharmed or learn that lofting his free throws several feet in the air is not the best method.  McAdoo would currently get squashed by a guy like Dwight Howard, and at this rate, even Chris Paul could give him a run for his money on the low post.

It is early in the season and McAdoo does have many more opportunities to prove that he is NBA ready, but as of now, it looks like he will live to see his senior night at the Dean Dome.

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