Justin Holiday and James Michael McAdoo weren’t front and center in the Warriors’ victory parade last month, not that they minded at all. They were just happy to be there.
But this summer, the reserves will prepare as if they won’t just be along for the ride next time.
In the likely event that David Lee is traded and free agent Leandro Barbosa signs elsewhere this summer, minutes may be available at the guard and forward positions. That could mean expanded roles for Holiday or McAdoo, respectively.
“A dream come true,” McAdoo called it. “To some people that might seem lame or whatever, but for me, I just attribute it to all the hard work I put in.”
“He has gotten dramatically better,” coach Steve Kerr said of McAdoo earlier this year. “He fills a specific need for us. He’s a high-energy, super-athletic power forward or center hybrid. … Where you need energy and you’re down several guys, it’s important to have guys like that.”
As for Holiday, who hoped to re-sign as a free agent, general manager Bob Myers said, “I see increased confidence in his game. You know, there’s confidence in the Summer League and there’s confidence in the Developmental League. But being confident on an NBA floor is different. He was a confident D-League player. He then became a confident Summer League player. And now we’re seeing signs of a confident NBA player.”
Holiday and McAdoo require no introduction. They’ve been practically joined at the hip since the start of last season. Not only were Holiday and McAdoo part of the NBA championship team, they were key players on the Santa Cruz Warriors squad that captured the D-League crown. Technically, they are the only players in history to achieve the dual titles in the same season.
While Holiday and McAdoo were under the radar with the NBA’s best team last season, Kerr said their energy and competitive spirit in practice played a role in team success.
“You would think you would kind of have a problem fitting in, but these guys have been such great guys,” said McAdoo, 22. “This is totally off the court, just really taking me under their wing, looking out for me and making sure I got everything I need.”
“If I see something, I just encourage them and make sure they stay positive and clapping them on, cheering them on,” Holiday said.
Holiday and McAdoo also got a taste of the NBA Finals, even if it was in a mop-up role. Near the end of Game 4, when the Warriors held a double-digit lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers, they combined to play three minutes.
“I just ripped my warm-ups off as quickly as possible,” McAdoo said. “I didn’t take any shots, but I did get a rebound, so my name was on the stats sheet.”Holiday, 26, shared similar sentiments. He didn’t log any points, assists or rebounds in two minutes but said the time on the court was well worth it.
“People constantly remind me, guys play in the NBA for 10, 15, almost 20 years and never make the Finals let alone be able to get on the floor,” McAdoo said. “For both of us to be on the team now and be in a similar role where we might not necessarily be playing but still be called on to be ready and cheer our team on is something that we both take seriously.”