Before Sunday night, Steven Adams' stiffest competition this preseason had been Spencer Hawes, an underachieving former lottery pick who's spent much of his career toiling on terrible teams.
There have been brief bouts with a few other notables, like Denver center JaVale McGee and New Orleans post man Anthony Davis.
But by and large, Adams had yet to face top flight competition, something that quietly clouded encouraging performances he assembled in three of the Thunder's first four exhibition games.
That all changed Sunday night, however, and turned an otherwise painful preseason slugfest against Utah into a must-see matchup.
It was Adams versus Enes Kanter, the third overall pick in 2011 who is widely projected to establish himself as a premier player now that he's free from Al Jefferson's smothering shadow.
And by the time the final buzzer had sounded, signaling the end to Oklahoma City's 88-82 victory over the rebuilding Jazz, you could score another one for Adams.
The 12th overall selection out of Pittsburgh continued his impressive preseason by starting in place of Kendrick Perkins (dislocated finger) and dominating Kanter for the 18 minutes they were matched up.
In the time he shared the court with Kanter, Adams scored four points with seven rebounds (three offensive), two blocked shots — both coming against Kanter — and one steal.
Kanter mustered just two points on 1-for-5 shooting with two rebounds and one foul in that time.
“He's been giving us good minutes,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “I thought he had another active game. He needs to continue to play like that.”
Adams finished with six points and a game-high 10 rebounds, his second-straight double digit rebounding game. In five preseason games, Adams is averaging 13.6 rebounds per 36 minutes. For context, Dwight Howard's career high is 13.9 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Numbers like those will only amplify the call by Adams supporters for the rookie to receive regular season minutes.
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