Steven Adams currently the starting center of the Oklahoma City Thunder has battled more adversity than most to get to the NBA. One of 18 children he was rescued from the streets of Rotorua his home town in the country of New Zealand by one of his brothers Warren after his father passed away in 2006. A few years later, he becomes a top 100 prospect when he moved states side for his senior year of high school. Few thought he could make it playing in the NCAA, who could blame them?? He has only played basketball a few short years and was a gifted shot putter like most siblings in his family. Credit Head Coach Jamie Dixon from the university of Pitt for taking a chance on a young Adams and he didn’t disappoint. In his one year of play Adams blossomed into a player who had great agility for his size, with toughness and a soft touch around the rim. This was enough for Thunder General Manager Sam Presti to draft Adams with the 12th overall pick in the 2013 draft ( The Thunder received this pick from the James Harden Trade of 2012 one of the most talked about trades in recent memory). Not bad for a guy who comes from a country where Rugby is king, some of the most beautiful landscape in the world and where Lord of the Rings was filmed.
Adams doesn’t turn 24 until July, with his skill set he will stay in the league for many years to come. After a few short seasons in the league Adams has morphed into a rare breed of big man who can set bone jarring screens, excels running the pick and roll with Westbrook, very nice post defense who can bang with opposing brutes inside and can rebound on both ends of the floor. If you like to get to the game early to see why NBA players are so good at their craft? In Adams’s case, it’s a simple shot from 6-7 feet that looks like he is throwing a shot put in the basket. The play is simple but very effective when the Thunder runs it. Westbrook or Oladipo will receive a screen from Adams once the defender is pinned Adams rolls to the rim. Westbrook sends a missile his way by the time Adams catches the ball he just turns his body, flick’s his wrist and the ball goes in at a high percentage. You will see the Thunder run this play during the start of the game and the start of the second half quite often. The combination of the defense paying attention to Westbrook driving the lane, and Adams not having to finish the play at the rim where an opposing big is waiting to meet him is a perfect combination for Adam’s confidence and opens the perimeter for teammates to shoot open threes as the game goes on.
At the trade deadline, OKC lacked depth with their second unit. Enter Presti, who turned three bench guys with only one who had promise (Cameron Payne). For a glue guy with great post moves (Taj Gibson) and a good shooter who has room to improve (Doug McDermott). With the upgrades to the roster the Thunder are poised to make a push for the fourth or fifth seed in the west instead of being left for dead in the seventh seed. With the three-headed monster in the front court of Adams, Enes Kanter and Gibson, OKC looks like a tough out come playoff time. This front line can wear you down defensively and put your own big men in foul trouble on the offensive end. This is all without mentioning the soon to be MVP of the league in guard Russell Westbrook who can’t be stopped this year by anybody and will average a triple double by seasons end. With all things considered, this won’t be enough to advance to past the second round of the playoffs and will lose in six games.
Expect OKC’s financial flexibility to come into play by re-signing Gibson and offer McDermott a cheap extension. Presti was smart to lock up Adams and Oladipo to extensions in October to non-max deals. All of this adds up for the core to stay together and help convince Westbrook to stay long term. Don’t sleep on Presti he will have another trick up his sleeve stay tuned.