After seven preseason games it was clear who won the Thunder’s backup center job.
But coach Scott Brooks on Friday said not so fast.
“Minutes? I don’t know,” Brooks said. “I don’t know who’s going to play minutes. Those are game-by-game decisions and we’ll see that first game.”
Well, we know it won’t be Hasheem Thabeet in the opener at Utah. He’s suspended for head-butting New Orleans center Greg Stiemsma. But by the sound of it, Brooks has yet to commit to Steven Adams for Game 2.
“I think he’s played very well,” Brooks said of Adams. “He’s done a lot of things that (are) the reason why we drafted him; to be a big body that can protect the basket and be a good low-post defender. Those are areas that I think he’s done a good job with and those areas he has to continue to improve on. He has good hands. He can finish around the basket. But those are also areas we have to continue to improve on.”
At this point, anybody who paid attention to preseason play probably thinks Brooks is just sticking to coach speak. Keeping all parties motivated by publicly maintaining that this battle isn’t over. But, remember, Brooks did the same thing with Reggie Jackson and Eric Maynor last season. That came after Jackson showed tremendous strides and Maynor showed enormous rust. Perhaps Brooks isn’t just talking.
What we know, though, is that Adams put his stamp on the center position with his preseason play. His performances were worthy of regular season backup minutes at the very least.
In seven games, Adams averaged 7.8 points, eight rebounds, 1.1 blocked shots, 0.7 assists and 3.8 fouls. He logged 23.4 minutes a night.
In five games, Thabeet averaged two points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.6 blocked shots, zero assists and 2.4 fouls. He logged 14.8 minutes a night.
The gap was even wider when judged by the eye test.
But the wait continues to see how Brooks scored it.
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