OKC Thunder: Could Steven Adams break into the rotation right away?

The one-time project is still correctly labeled as an ongoing project. But instead of preparing for his sophomore season at Pittsburgh, the New Zealand native is in his first training camp with the Oklahoma City Thunder, viewed by man as the team's future at the center position.
by Anthony Slater Published: October 10, 2013
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photo - Steven Adams made his Thunder debut Sunday in Orlando. He scored two points and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes. Photo by Sarah Phipps The Oklahoman
Steven Adams made his Thunder debut Sunday in Orlando. He scored two points and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes. Photo by Sarah Phipps The Oklahoman

Those numbers certainly aren't eye-popping, but his constant activity and general court awareness jumped off the screen.

Most notably, he made a couple of sly backdoor cuts, smoothly gathering and finishing a pair of quick passes that have commonly ricocheted off the hands of Thunder centers in the past.

“He's so hungry, and he's so eager to get better that I guess you could say we (foresaw) him doing well,” point guard Reggie Jackson said, before admitting, “Maybe not this well, but he picks up things quickly.”

The learning curve remains steep for the 20-year-old, particularly on defense, where his youthful energy was on full display in the first two exhibition games (eight fouls in 32 minutes).

“Once I'm in the game, it's going very, very fast for me,” Adams said, when referring to the Thunder's complicated defensive coverages. “There's so much to think about. So I just kind of have to slow myself down and work on the defensive stuff before everything else.”

But the physical tools, at 7-feet, 255 pounds, are already there. And the offensive skills seem to be further along than most expected.

So a guy who once seemed ticketed for an extended stay in Tulsa has suddenly become an intriguing option for the Thunder's immediate rotation.

Time will tell and history would suggest otherwise, with Scott Brooks showing a usual reluctance to play young guys over known veteran commodities.

Kendrick Perkins is the entrenched starter. Hasheem Thabeet is the returning backup. But Adams, already viewed as the future, could be making a push for a rotation spot in the present.

“It takes some time,” Brooks said, trying to tamper expectations. “He has to understand what we do on both ends of the floor. The game always seems to be faster for younger players. But I think what he's done the last 10 days is good to see. It's fun to see his enthusiasm, his excitement for the game.”

Click here for a film room breakdown of Adams' offensive game.


by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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