Lucas: McAdoo Departure Shuffles Depth Chart
Release: 04/04/2014

By Adam Lucas

Yesterday, James Michael McAdoo announced he will enter the NBA Draft. That means changing roles for several members of the 2014-15 roster. Some quick ramifications:

1. More playing time for Brice Johnson.

The first, and easiest, assumption about McAdoo's departure is that his presumed spot in the starting lineup will go to Johnson. That will give the Tar Heel offense a very different look in 2014-15.

If there's one thing we know about Johnson, it's that he can score. His 56.6% field goal percentage led the team this year, and he has a naturally soft touch around the rim. Truth be told, he's probably more capable of putting the ball into the basket in a variety of different ways than McAdoo.

What he's not, of course, is as physically strong as McAdoo, or as versatile a defender. Johnson can block shots and protect the rim, but his struggles in team defense this year were well chronicled and are a big reason why he played fewer minutes than he otherwise might have. He has the ability and athleticism to be a good defender--now he'll get to show if a bigger role makes him increase his commitment to that area.

Johnson won't represent much, if any, of a rebounding dropoff from McAdoo. The departing McAdoo averaged 6.8 rebounds per game this year, but he did it in 30.1 minutes per game. Johnson, meanwhile, averaged 6.1 in 19.4 minutes. Ken Pomeroy's stats support the idea that Johnson can be an equally or more effective rebounder; Johnson's defensive rebounding rate was 21.7 percent this year (McAdoo's was 14.9%), putting him just outside the top 100 in the country in that category. He was even better on the offensive glass, with a 12.6% offensive rebounding percentage (the percent of available offensive rebounds he grabbed while on the floor) that ranks 83rd best in America. Johnson and Kennedy Meeks together should be a quality rebounding post duo.

2. Isaiah Hicks moves back to power forward.

This might be the most intriguing part of the shuffle, simply because no one really knows what Hicks might do at his more natural position. After deciding early in the season that the freshman was confused by being shuttled between small forward and power forward, the Tar Heels played him exclusively at small forward for the balance of the year.

But, in reality, Hicks is better suited for power forward, which is where he'll presumably see most of his minutes next season. Quietly, the coaching staff was very encouraged by his play in practice this year. He'll get a chance to translate that to games next season as a key member of Carolina's rotation.

3. The presumed Hicks move, in turn, opens a slot on the wing.

With Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson part of the incoming class and the return of the rapidly improving J.P. Tokoto, the Tar Heel depth chart on the wing is well-stocked for next year. Both incoming freshmen have the potential to address some of the long-range shooting issues from this year, but keep in mind that Tokoto made big strides as a shooter last summer. By the end of the season, he was a consistent threat from 15-17 feet. If he makes the same leap this summer, he could be a legitimate three-point option. Either way, even with McAdoo's departure, there are simply more outside shooting options for next season, and that's good news.

4. Marcus Paige is officially the acknowledged leader of next year's team.

McAdoo's departure leaves Desmond Hubert, Jackson Simmons and Luke Davis as the only seniors on next year's team. But Paige was already going to be in the role of rotation upperclassman who has the biggest leadership position. Don't believe it? Compare who addressed the crowd when the Tar Heels returned from Michigan State in December:

And when they returned from San Antonio in March:

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