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OKC Thunder: Steven Adams has an appetite for learning, food

Thunder's first-round pick loves food, and loves how his game can improve with the teaching he's getting from the OKC staff.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: July 13, 2013

On the surface, Steven Adams might come off as a bit of a goofball.

He makes silly faces when posing for pictures, characterizes interesting people, places and things as “mean” and has never met a meal he wouldn't try.

Back in June, Adams even playfully but quickly jumped on the Heat bandwagon after initially picking and rooting for San Antonio to beat Miami in the NBA Finals.

“I wouldn't say he's a jokester,” said Thunder assistant coach Rex Kalamian. “I would say he has an energetic personality.”

As teammates and coaches have slowly gotten to know the rookie center the Thunder selected with the 12th overall pick they're finding that, yes, Adams does have his quirks. But above all he's a hard worker, a great teammate and an eager learner.

“He's an interesting guy but a good guy to be around,” said Thunder guard DeAndre Liggins.

Second-year shooting guard Jeremy Lamb described Adams as “super cool.” He labeled Adams as funny, easy going and easy to talk to.

“He's always going to have your back,” Lamb said. “The first day he was here we were in the weight room and I was on the ground about to get up and he ran over to help me up. Just little stuff like that you can tell that he's a real team player. He does whatever he feels he needs to do to help the team win, and that's a great guy to be around.”

After becoming the first New Zealander to be drafted in the first round, Adams' professional journey started in earnest at the Orlando Pro Summer League. In four games, the 7-footer out of Pittsburgh averaged nine points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots.

Though the week showed that Adams has a surprisingly solid foundation, he is, by all accounts, still a project who will require patience.

“It's going to take time,” stressed Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon. “But he's got great instincts and he's got a great work ethic.”

Dixon compared Adams' journey to Tim Duncan's in that both had very little basketball structure prior to enrolling in college.

“He hasn't played against the normal competition an American kid would growing up,” Dixon said. “He's been schooled in fundamentals, and I think people would say he's got good skills. … But prior to the four months he had with us, he wasn't playing against athletes and the type of guys you face in the Big East. He was playing in pick-up games, and there were pick-up games were he was playing with girls and guys.”

Adams understands where he is in his development, which is why he's taken to coaching with such enthusiasm.

“Whatever they say, I'll do because they know what's best for me,” Adams said.

During breaks in Orlando, Adams sat next to Thunder assistant coach Mark Bryant near the end of the bench. Bryant provided non-stop instruction, and Adams listened intently.

By the end of the week, Adams had begun raving about Bryant and the rest of the Thunder's staff like a child who had just met his heroes.

“They're legit,” Adams marveled. “They are awesome.”

For now, the Thunder wants to keep everything simple with Adams. His job is to defend, rebound, run the floor and set good screens. Adams said he is focused mostly on improving his pick-and-roll defense. Everything else, he said, is “just a bonus.”

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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