OKC Thunder: Steven Adams has made a great first impression

The Thunder rookie has been pegged as a rising star in the NBA. He made his All-Star debut Friday night in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, the first milestone in what could be a long and prosperous career.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 14, 2014
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NEW ORLEANS — Steven Adams never dreamed big.

Not this big.

Not NBA big.

“I never took an interest in the NBA,” he said. “I was so into rugby. That's all I grew up watching.”

Adams didn't even know about NBA All-Star Weekend until 2012, the year before his first and only season at the University of Pittsburgh. The only reason he decided to, as he put it, “look into it” was because “everyone was buzzing about it.”

Two years later, Adams has been pegged as a rising star in the league.

The Thunder rookie center made his All-Star debut Friday night in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, the first milestone in what could be a long and prosperous career.

“It's huge,” Adams said of his first appearance. “I can't really put it into words. It's kind of a different feeling, because you're representing all of Oklahoma City as well as New Zealand and yourself. So there's some sort of pressure to kind of make sure you make a good first impression for who you're representing.”

So far, Adams has handled himself just fine, making those in both his hometown and his host city proud.

Selected 12th overall, Adams has exceeded all expectations in his first NBA season and become a quality and consistent contributor on a championship contender. He's on pace to become only the sixth rookie since 1985 to average at least 14 minutes on a 60-win team.

Gary Neal with San Antonio in 2010 was the last to do it. Manu Ginóbili, Richard Dumas, Vlade Divac and A.C. Green also did it.

“It's a huge compliment to him and to the people that voted him and selected him to be here because the things that Steven does, they're little things throughout the game that don't necessarily always show up on the stat sheet,” said Thunder assistant and Team Webber coach Rex Kalamian. “So for him to be selected to play in this game, people see that he has value.”

Even if Adams didn't always see it.

“I didn't even know,” Adams said when asked when he realized he could make it to the NBA. “I just took a risk, I guess. I just thought I might as well try. And it turned out pretty well.”

As he stood alongside fellow rising stars, being peppered with question after question by media from Oklahoma City to Greece, Adams was asked if his inclusion in Friday's festivities gave him a better idea of what could be in store for his future.

“Not at all,” he said. “I had a dream about shooting a 3-pointer once. That would be pretty fun.”

While amusing, Adams' response actually reveals plenty about what's gotten him here.

He's as green as he is gregarious. But both traits have helped him to keep his head down and work ethic up. He doesn't know he's supposed to be this successful this soon.


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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