Grading Steven Adams’ rookie season:
Postseason: A. Really all you could ask and more from the rookie in his first postseason. After his reinsertion into the rotation late in the Memphis series, Adams was spectacular in spurts and key in some of OKC’s biggest wins. He blocked five Grizzlies shots in Game 6 of the first round, had a huge double-double in 40 minutes during the closeout win in Los Angeles and compiled seven points, nine rebounds and four blocks during a big Game 3 win over San Antonio in the conference finals. Adams arrived on the national scene during the playoffs.
Rim protection: B. Serge Ibaka is arguably the league’s best shot-blocker. But Adams is quickly developing into a feared one, as well, giving the Thunder what looks to be a dynamic backline for years to come. In limited minutes, Adams had 57 blocks during the regular season, second most among rookies, and 24 in the playoffs, sixth most in the league. “In terms of timing, yeah, it's gotten a lot better,” Adams said. “I picked it up off Serge.”
Offensive game: C+. When Adams dropped that 17 and 10 on Detroit five games into the season, flashing an array of jump hooks and nifty finishes, he had looks of an immediate offensive threat. But that 17 points proved to be an anomaly, easily remaining his season-high. His focus, understandably, was all about defense his rookie season. And that, plus a system built around dynamic perimeter players, seemed to hinder him on the offensive end. But he was solid in the postseason, catching and finishing, and that’s all they really need from him in the immediate future.
Foul issues: C. In the regular season, Adams averaged 8.1 fouls per 48 minutes, second most in the NBA among eligible players. But once the playoffs began and his playing time eventually ratcheted up, Adams showed improvement in that area. He only averaged 7.0 fouls per 48 in the postseason, not great but not terrible (37th highest). Moving forward, with his role expected to expand, it remains a concern.
Promise: A. Of the four teams that competed in the conference finals — the Thunder, Heat, Pacers and Spurs — Adams was the only rookie in a rotation. He appeared in 99 of OKC’s 101 games this season, gaining valuable experience on the NBA’s biggest stage. Combine that with his unique athleticism and rapidly improving skill set, and the future looks bright for the New Zealander.