Oklahoma City Thunder: What's Steven Adams' ceiling in the NBA?

The Oklahoman’s staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Steven Adams:
by Berry Tramel and Darnell Mayberry and Anthony Slater Published: June 14, 2014
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photo - Oklahoma City's Steven Adams (12) goes for the ball between Portland's Thomas Robinson (41) and Joel Freeland (19) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Oklahoma City won 105-97. PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Steven Adams (12) goes for the ball between Portland's Thomas Robinson (41) and Joel Freeland (19) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Oklahoma City won 105-97. PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, The Oklahoman

The Oklahoman’s staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Steven Adams:

1. What was the most impressive aspect of Steven Adams’ rookie season?

Darnell Mayberry (beat writer): His mental fortitude. He didn’t care whether he was going against a rookie or a future Hall of Famer (maybe because he didn’t know who these guys were for much of the season). Adams never changed. He played hard and never backed down. Maybe it stemmed from his big-family background or his rugby-playing days. Whatever the reason, it was awfully impressive.

Anthony Slater (beat writer): His love for physical play and his stoic, robotic look in the midst of surrounding drama. Stone Cold brushes off shots to the face from grown men like they’re love taps from a kindergartener. Vince Carter elbow? “Cool.” Zach Randolph left jab? “What happened?” He irritates opponents, taking them off their game or completely out of the game — via ejection — while always remaining emotionless and focused. Rare poise for any player, unheard of from a 20-year-old rookie.

Berry Tramel (columnist): Adams’ renaissance. Hard for a rookie to rally, but that’s what Adams did. He was surprisingly impressive early in the season, capped by that big game (17 points, 10 rebounds) in Detroit. But Adams slumped in midseason and didn’t play well at all. Even when Kendrick Perkins was injured and Adams started, his play didn’t improve much. But starting with Game 6 of the Memphis, Adams was superb in the playoffs. He showed that he can be an impact starter at center, with vast potential.

2. What’s his realistic ceiling in the NBA?

Mayberry: I thought we were already penciling him into the Hall of Fame, according to Reggie Jackson? But let’s just say he falls short. I’ll say he’s a longtime starter and borderline All-Star. With the right circumstance, I could see him averaging a double-double and two blocks a game.

Slater: In the final month of the playoffs, it felt like he elevated it by the day. Already a physical force and solid rebounder, he emerged as a rim protector, contributed steadily on offense and channeled his incredibly rare athleticism in better ways. And he did it all on a showcase stage, completely unfazed by the playoff spotlight. In the next few seasons, I think he could develop into a Robin Lopez type (11 points, eight rebounds, two blocks for the Blazers this season). But deeper into the future, the sky’s the limit.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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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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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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