What Happened to James Michael McAdoo's NBA Story?

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterSeptember 4, 2014

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 16: James Michael McAdoo #43 of the Golden State Warriors looks to pass the ball against the Atlanta Hawks on July 16, 2014 at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
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It wasn't too long ago we were waiting for James Michael McAdoo to emerge as a top-five NBA draft pick.

Instead, fast-forward a few years, and we're waiting to see whether or not he'll stick with the Golden State Warriors on a partially guaranteed one-year deal after nobody picked him in the 2014 draft.

How'd that happen? This kid was can't-miss as a McDonald's All-American out of high school. 

As a freshman at North Carolina, he teased us with flashes of mesmerizing athleticism and eye-opening versatility. 

At the time, McAdoo was set up perfectly in position to play to his strengths while surrounded by stars at every position—Kendall Marshall at the point, Reggie Bullock and Harrison Barnes on the wings, John Henson at the 4 and Tyler Zeller at the 5. 

And McAdoo's strengths haven't changed—they center around his ability to make plays without the ball in his hands.

His role and responsibilities were clear his freshman year, and they didn't require much decision-making or ball skills, given how little he was featured in such a stacked lineup.

But then summer 2012 hit, and Barnes, Marshall, Henson and Zeller all went pro. 

Not McAdoo, who stuck around for a featured role as a sophomore. And that's when it all went wrong. 

Bob Leverone/Associated Press

With extra touches in the offense and plays designed for him to create, McAdoo has struggled mightily with decision-making, shot selection and efficiency overall. Despite his 6'9" size and wide-receiver-like athleticism, he shot just 44.5 percent from the floor as a sophomore and 45.8 percent as a junior.

Instead of praising his increased scoring output (14.4 points per game in 2012-13, 14.2 in 2013-14), scouts have questioned his limitations and future outlook.

McAdoo didn't hit one three-pointer in three years at North Carolina, where he shot below 58 percent from the stripe over his last two. In 2013-14, he made just 21.6 percent of his total jump shots, per Derek Bodner of DraftExpress.

While there was likely hope he could develop into a small or combo forward, his inconsistent jumper, lack of range and limited off-the-dribble game pretty much kills that thought. 

Without the necessary skills to play the wing, McAdoo projects more as a power forward in the NBA. Only he averaged just 6.8 boards and shot just 55 percent around the rim, per Dylan Burkhardt of ShotAnalytics.com, last season. 

McAdoo struggles playing through and finishing after contact, a bad sign for a forward who isn't much of a threat from outside. 

Just like that, McAdoo's pre-NBA label, which used to read "versatile," has gotten flipped upside and now says "tweener" in bold font.

And it destroyed his NBA draft stock. 

However, it's not over for McAdoo. 

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18: James Michael McAdoo #43 of the Golden State Warriors dunks against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Samsung NBA Summer League 2014 on July 18, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowle
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ProBasketballTalk's Dan Feldman notes how, with only 13 players under guaranteed contracts in Golden State, McAdoo will have a real chance to make this roster.

And there's no denying McAdoo's natural talent—he just has to figure out how to channel it into NBA activity. 

It will more than likely have to come in a role that keeps him off the ball, where he can finish plays as a cutter, slasher, weapon on the break and cleanup man around the rim. That's McAdoo's bread and butter and what he's capable of bringing to Golden State—catching-and-scoring in the lane, tipping in misses, sneaking backdoor for an alley-oop. 

You want McAdoo reacting with his legs and his athleticism off the ball—not thinking while it's still in his hands. 

“Right now I am excited about fulfilling my dream to play in the NBA and do what I have to do to take that next step,” McAdoo said via Andrew Carter of the NewsObserver.com following his decision to enter the draft after his junior year.

The next step for McAdoo is finding a way to stick. And despite all his flaws and holes, he'll have a darn good opportunity in Golden State.

If McAdoo can sell the Warriors on his energy and activity—a guy who makes things happen without needing his number called—there's a chance he can carve out a niche for himself as a spark plug up front.