The Oklahoma City Thunder selected center Steven Adams with the twelfth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Adams is a legit 7-footer who weighs in at 255 pounds and averaged 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in one season at Pittsburgh.
A native or New Zealand, Adams played one professional season for the Wellington Saints of New Zealand’s National Basketball League. Adams was named Rookie of the Year in 2011 and helped Wellington win an NBL championship. At just twenty years old Adams is raw, but like the old saying goes, you can’t teach size.
Adams helped Oklahoma City win the 2013 Orlando Summer League title posting 10 points and 9 rebounds in the deciding game. In four Summer League games Adams averaged 9 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks while shooting 60% from the field.
OKC’s front office has had a lot of success in the draft in recent years selecting gems like Kevin Durant, James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook. They’ve also made some mistakes when it comes to acquiring post players.
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti brought in young players like Byron Mullens and Cole Aldrich who never really put it together in OKC. The Thunder signed center Hasheem Thabeet last season who did very little to shake off his “bust” label. Trading for Kendrick Perkins looked good on paper in 2011 but in his eleventh pro season his style of play no longer fits with today’s NBA.
Oklahoma City’s collection of centers hasn’t panned out. The league’s trend of less bulky, more mobile centers may make Steven Adams the Thunder’s five-man of the future. With the exception of Houston’s Dwight Howard, there aren’t any more physically imposing centers in the NBA. The twenty-year-old Adams has the size and mobility to make an impact for the Thunder.
“It's going to take time,” Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon told the Oklahoman. “But he's got great instincts and he's got a great work ethic.”
“I'm a high-energy guy, running the lane,” Adams explained. “I like transition, running up and down, stuff like that, also just being physical. I'm working on my post game now, so that's eventually going to come around. I don't think I'll go out and straight-away dominate, but I will dominate certain tasks that they put me up to.”
“I'm a work in progress,” Adams added. “I'm just taking it day by day, working hard and getting better.”
In OKC’s first preseason game in Turkey against Fenerbahce Ulker Adams shot 3-for-4 from the floor scoring 7 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in just fifteen minutes. He also committed 5 fouls and had 3 turnovers—hey, he’s just a rookie. Despite a few miscues, Adams displayed good hands and was surprisingly nimble for a player his size. His continued development could pay huge dividends for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the near future.