He was the talk of the preseason, but it was only the preseason.
He was serviceable in the first three games, but he didn't jump off the screen.
He officially won the backup center job, but Scott Brooks has been nullifying that at times with his small lineups.
Nine guys played for the Thunder in the first quarter of Wednesday night's 107-93 win over the Mavericks. None were named Steven Adams.
But over the next 36 minutes, Adams was given an extended opportunity.
And in his first substantial chance — in front of a national television audience — the Thunder's rookie center arrived on the NBA scene.
In his 20 minutes (six more than starter Kendrick Perkins), Adams compiled six points, nine rebounds, two steals and a block. He had a plus/minus of positive-8. And he had an on-court impact that far outweighed those numbers.
“He does all the little things for us,” Kevin Durant said. “He's getting better every time he steps on floor. Tonight was no different.”
Adams rebounded well in traffic, set brick wall screens and played with a toughness not usually seen by awe-struck NBA rookies.
"They have the white Kendrick Perkins now," Dirk Nowitzki told ESPN Dallas of Adams' willingness to mix it up.
At one point in the third quarter, after he snatched an offensive rebound away from two Mavericks and inadvertently elbowed Vince Carter, Carter retaliated.
Dallas' 15-year veteran rolled across the paint and drilled Adams with a blatant elbow, leading to Carter's ejection. Adams wasn't even fazed.
“I saw it on the replay and said, ‘Goodness,'” Jeremy Lamb recalled. “Looked (at him) and I said, ‘Did that hurt?' He said, ‘What?' I said, ‘the elbow, did it hurt?' He was like, ‘Not really.' So he's a real tough kid.”
Through one training camp and a few games, Adams has already developed a tough reputation among his teammates. He was a rugby player growing up and, at times, isn't afraid to flash that part of his past.
“Real physical,” Lamb said. “He does a lot of little things that not everybody sees and having someone like that on your team is always good.”
“He protects the rim, the paint,” added coach Scott Brooks. “Still needs to learn a lot about the game, this level. A lot of things he will pick up as the season goes on.”
But at this point, OKC and its adoring fans couldn't be happier with their first-round pick.
He's a high-energy, productive big. An exciting interior force that already contains qualities that the Thunder has lacked at that center position since moving to the metro.
“It's going to be game to game,” Brooks said, when talking about his allocation of minutes to the center position.
But if he plays like he did Wednesday, it'll be tough to keep him off the floor.