Although the label “garbage time star” might sound passive aggressive, I use it as a term of endearment.
It’s the player who comes into the game when there’s absolutely no question about what the final outcome and exhibits some nice production.
With a team that has been as great as the Warriors have been these last couple seasons, it’s hard to remember them being on the wrong end of garbage time.
Usually the Warriors are the ones evoking garbage time by dismantling their opponents handily through the first 3 quarters of the game.
To give their hard working starters a rest, the reserves admirably come in for mop up duty to entertain the crowd with some low anxiety basketball for the final 12 minutes.
It’s a combination of rest and preventing injury that explains why the starters and key reserves are held out for that final quarter, but let’s not fall into the trap of oversimplification.
It’s not as if garbage time players don’t have an important role on the team. There’s definitely a hierarchy, but there’s still a powerful sense of trust with the guys seeing the court in those final minutes.
Every player in the NBA is immensely talented; they wouldn’t be in the league if they weren’t. If anything, it’s a testament to how truly adept starters are that players who were the most dominant athletes on their high school and college teams can barely get playing time professionally.
It’s interesting to study the Warriors’ garbage time lineup in particular, because they don’t field a typical group relative to other garbage time squads around the league.
The Warriors have so much talent and depth on their roster that their garbage time unit could go to some other teams in the league and be crucial rotation players.
It’s part of the tradeoff of being on a transcendent team, though. While an incredible collection of talent like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green get to smile and laugh amongst each other while looking on from the bench during a 25 point blowout they orchestrated, the trusted garbage time unit gets to pad their stats as a quasi-audition for increased playing time in higher pressure situations.
I was actually pleasantly surprised that James Michael McAdoo re-signed with the team this offseason, because I’m convinced that he would be a higher impact player on another team.
He’s an explosive finisher near the hoop on pick-and-rolls, and always shows great energy in his limited minutes.
Last season, McAdoo ranked 4th on the team in points per 48 minutes. While averaging just 6.4 minutes per game, he was able to average 2.9 points per game.
Yes it’s a small sample size, but an encouraging statistic if he were ever to get more minutes on either this team or another team.
With how the depth chart looks, it’s probably unlikely that McAdoo sees a major jump in playing time next season.
He can play either forward position, but the front office made more free agent moves to bolster the frontcourt than the backcourt this offseason.
While a garbage time guy like Ian Clark is a prime candidate for increased minutes due to departures of guys like Leandro Barbosa and Brandon Rush, the front office seemed more active in replacing guys that McAdoo could have filled in for.
Marreese Speights departed, but David West was acquired to be the backup power forward.
McAdoo is probably going to compete with Kevon Looney for minutes at that third string hybrid forward spot.
Garbage time units by their very nature are malleable, and heavily dependent on injuries to players above them on the depth chart.
There’s not many scenarios where the garbage time unit stays constant throughout the year, making it hard to speculate on who’ll be in it for the Warriors.
It’s easier to make a guess based on process of elimination. Curry, Thompson, Livingston, Durant, Iguodala, Green, West, and Pachulia are the obvious omissions, barring unusual circumstances.
However, that leaves just 4 players remaining on an active roster of 12 players. And it gets especially complicated when trying to figure out which final 4 players get those spots.
I’m thinking that Clark and McAdoo will definitely be on the active roster based on what they did last season.
So there’s 2 active spots remaining amongst a pool of players consisting of Damian Jones, Anderson Varejao, Patrick McCaw, Looney, and that final spot that looks like JaVale McGee and Elliot Williams are competing for.
I’m going to eliminate Jones for the time being, just because he’s injured and it’s hard to tell when he’ll be healthy enough to play.
That leaves them especially thin at center, meaning that Varejao needs to be on that active roster backing up Pachulia.
Upon further examination of this roster, it seems unlikely that both McAdoo and Looney will be active together at the beginning of the regular season. It’ll be one or the other.
The Jones injury situation basically assures that Varejao will be active at the start of the regular season.
I’d even go as far to say that if McGee makes the team, he’ll be among the 12 players on the active roster from the outset.
That leaves 2 of the 3 inactive spots up for grabs, with Jones filling up one of them as an injured player.
I think McCaw and Looney ultimately end up in them, meaning that the 12 guys on the active roster will be Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green, Pachulia, Livingston, Clark, Iguodala, McAdoo, West, Varejao, and McGee.
With a group of 12 that looks like that, the garbage time unit would then likely be Clark, McAdoo, Varejao, and McGee, but that still leaves an obvious omission as a second guard next to Clark, unless Livingston is put on mop up duty along with his already prominent role.
They’ll have to mix and match a bit, and to be fair, the construction of a perfect garbage time unit should not be the main priority of building a roster.
McAdoo seems like he’s in a good position to remain largely in the same role he was last season, where he showed a lot of promise.
Like Curry and Thompson, McAdoo comes from an impressive basketball lineage. His second cousin is Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo.
He was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and burst onto the basketball landscape as a terrific high school player for Norfolk Christian High School.
He lead the school to 2 state championships and was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Virginia in 2010 and 2011.
He made the USA Today First Team and was a Parade All-American Third Team selection. McAdoo also participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game.
Scout.com ranked him as the 4th best prospect in the class of 2011, ahead of guys like Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Otto Porter. McAdoo decided to attend the University of North Carolina.
During his sophomore and junior years at North Carolina, he made the All-ACC Second Team. During his 3 seasons at North Carolina, he averaged 11.4 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game, and 1.2 steals per game.
He decided to forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 NBA draft, and unfortunately it proved to be a questionable choice.
He didn’t get drafted, but ended up joining the Warriors on their 2014 Summer League team. He spent that first season with the team bouncing back and forth between the D-League and NBA.
He was selected to the All-NBA D-League Second Team at the end of the 2014-2015 season, and played in 15 games at the NBA level with the Warriors.
McAdoo saw more time in the NBA with the Warriors in 2015-2016, appearing in 41 games, although he missed a large portion of the season with a toe injury.
He’s certainly a talented player, and shows a lot of potential in the few minutes he’s able to secure every now and then.
It’s indicative of how deep this roster has been that a guy like McAdoo barely plays, because there’s a lot of other teams in the league that would utilize McAdoo in a larger role.
He re-signed with the Warriors this offseason presumably because he realizes he’s got a great thing going here.
It’s very cool to be able to say you had a role on historically dominant teams like McAdoo has had these past 2 seasons.
This Warriors team has a chance to be even better than the previous 2 versions, and McAdoo looks like he’ll keep providing solid depth for the squad.