Promise doesn’t always come with opportunity.
For James Michael McAdoo, such promise has always been there, but the opportunity to contribute on the NBA level has yet to seriously show itself. The former Tar Heel went undrafted last season despite three impressive years in college.
After playing for Golden State’s Summer League team, he was signed to the Warriors’ Developmental League affiliate in Santa Cruz. McAdoo contributed to the eventual league champions with averages of 19.5 points on 57.5 percent shooting, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists, including 21 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes in the clinching game of the D-League Finals against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
If one championship isn’t enough for the calendar year, then two should do just fine. After helping the Santa Cruz Warriors hoist the trophy, McAdoo was present for Golden State’s first title since 1975. The rookie forward wasn’t on the floor for the grandiose moments, but his perseverance and potential – with a newfound opening in the front court – makes McAdoo a breakout candidate for the upcoming season.
It was an impressive rookie campaign for the Norfolk, Virginia native, but if he had it his way, the contributions will be on a much larger scale come next season. After securing an 83-67 win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday – the same team who beat them by 19 just two days earlier – I talked with McAdoo about the championship season, the importance Christianity plays in his life, his role next season and more.
So many guys are brought into a situation coming into the league where their teams are struggling and rebuilding. How fortunate are you that you got brought onto a team where this wasn’t the case?
I was extremely fortunate. I talk about it all the time. I think about it all the time. How many times does a guy go undrafted, get cut by a team and then get called up and sign onto a team that really doesn’t need my help? Let’s be honest. They have given me the opportunity to develop. They have invested in me so I’m just here trying to work on my game, get as good as I can. Just fill the role the coaches want me to do.
Just how fun was last season? You didn’t have a whole ton of time on the floor, but you were still on their supporting your team.
It was crazy. I mean it was the most fun I have ever had playing the game of basketball, both playing in Santa Cruz and obviously Golden State. The journey I went through this last year is something I will never forget: the path I took to win a NBA championship as well as a D-League championship. I think that just really speaks to the organization of Golden State as well as the character of the guys, coaches, and just their investment of not only myself but in this organization.
How was the D-League experience in Santa Cruz? Did it wear you a little bit, having to constantly travel up and down?
I loved it. You know I’m young. I’m 22. I love Santa Cruz. I used to always dream when I was a little kid that I would play basketball in the NBA in California. Probably back then I thinking more so Los Angeles, but I never knew that much about Golden State, so this type of opportunity to play not only in the Bay Area but down the road in Santa Cruz. No matter how much of a tax on my body it was, it just allowed me to get better in my game, improve and really invest in myself.
January 19th, you make your debut against the Denver Nuggets, you have a good game, at home, in front of that Oracle crowd. Take me through your emotions that night.
It was all such a whirlwind: going from the NBA showcase that weekend to getting called up and playing in my first NBA game in the regular season. The team ended up blowing them out and I get thrown in there at the end of the third quarter. I go on a little run. You know you couldn’t have wrote it any better, so I’m just so thankful to God for that, for the opportunity to get my feet wet and I think it really just helped my confidence when I’m out there playing especially in Summer League getting ready for next year. I know I can play at that level, I just need to work on some things to really become more consistent.
You mentioned your Christianity. How important is that to your life and to your game?
It’s huge. I thought I had faith before, I really did, I thought I had faith, but there were nights I will never forget. My agent called me and let me know that Golden State was going to cut me. This was the day right before the last pre-season game. I cried my eyes out in the hotel room because you know when you try so hard and invest so much. Stuff like that is tough to swallow especially at a young age. You know John Doe might go take a job, get fired, the whole world isn’t going to know. I didn’t get drafted, everybody knew. When I got cut from the team, everybody knew. That’s a tough pill to swallow. God really just brought me through a time in my life where now I can stand up and say he was with me through the whole way. Every time I have the opportunity I just want to give him the glory. I was giving him the glory when things were going bad.
What are you looking to improve most on this summer?
The biggest thing is I just want to really continue to work on my strengths, but also work on my weaknesses. One of my weaknesses is shooting, so I’m really trying to develop a better jump shot. I didn’t shoot the ball tremendously well from the free throw line today, that is something I will continue to work on. My strengths is being a great defender, being a guy out there vocal, can run the floor, finish above the rim, just really play with a lot of energy and help get guys open. Those are all good things that will help me contribute.
How important is Ron Adams to your development?
Ron is the man. He’s been that guy from when I first got here. He doesn’t sugarcoat it. He has been around this game so long, he knows so much about the game of basketball. Just to be able to work out with him, but not only him, everybody from top to bottom on this coaching staff. Ron obviously has a special interest in me and I think he has gone above and beyond in helping me develop as a player and I’m looking forward to the future
Now, with David Lee going to Boston, that opens up another spot in the front court for you. How much have you talked to Coach Kerr about that role? Do you expect to play more next season?
Definitely. You know with D-Lee being gone, he was a great guy that taught me so much about the game, being a professional, come in each and every day working on our game. I’m excited for him and the new opportunity he has, but I’m also excited for the new opportunity I have to come in and be a part of this rotation and play behind guys like Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut and really just help this team get to the next level. I think I can really help them especially on the defensive end. Being long and athletic like guys like Draymond, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and really just contribute.
Kevon Looney was also recently brought on board. How has he looked to you and how do you guys look to co-exist in the future?
I think it’s awesome. You know him coming in, especially to this organization. Much like myself, just having the opportunity to grow, not necessarily need to contribute immediately. I think it’s been great for him to come out to Summer League. He looked really comfortable today, so I think that it’s awesome for him to continue to build and get better.