The Other Guys: Steven Adams
Advanced analytics and three-point shooting be damned, there is still a place in the NBA for dominant big men. The kind of players that use their awesome size and athleticism with punishing results. One such monster prowls the paint in Oklahoma City.
Steven Adams is in his sixth year of service in the Association, and has become a cornerstone of the Thunder. Because behind every errant Russell Westbrook three is Adams, fighting for an inevitable rebound.
The Pittsburgh product is having one of his best years as a pro, and his Thunder too are enjoying great success. OKC is poised to earn one of the top postseason berths in the Western Conference.
Let’s take a quick look at how much Steve Adams truly does for the Thunder.
Traditional big man
Any conversation about Steven Adams must begin with his family roots. The seven-footer is one of 18 siblings in a family where the sons’ average height is 6ft 9in and the daughter’s average 6ft 0 in. In short, Adams was destined to be a big man.
Since entering the league, Adams has developed a well-deserved reputation as an enforcer. His menacing hair and tattoos are well-earned. Isaiah Thomas once told me that Adams was in fact the strongest man in the NBA. Adams was dismissive when he heard the news.
Within that anecdote lives the tremendous power Adams holds. He isn’t showy, or flashing, or domineering. He does everything he’s meant to do, and he does it well.
Adams is having a career year, averaging 9.8 rebounds per game. That said, he’s third in the league in box outs, and a truly suspect Adams could league the lead in rebounding if Westbrook wasn’t such a hawk.
At the same time, Adams is a true defensive presence. He’s a bit slow-footed, and can at times be exposed. But when the Thunder are healthy, the dynamic changes. Suddenly he’s the anchor, the backline of for a team with the fifth-best defensive rating in the NBA.
On offense, Adams is the same strong-armed beast. He’s a critical leg of a very effective pick-and-roll offense. His shot chart underscores just how dominant he is in the paint.
(Via PBP Stats)
Few teams in the Western Conference postseason will have a force quite like Steve Adams down low. And beyond Houston’s of Clint Capela,Adams is by far the most athletic center we’ll see in the West this spring.
With Adams, Russell Westbrook will always have a chance at getting the sort of open space he needs to get going. Alongside Paul George and a host of other role players, a well-oiled Westrbook-Adams pick and roll is deadly weapon.
Adams will need to play at his best for the Thunder to go the distance this postseason. Not only is his ceiling that high, but he really is that important to Oklahoma City. So long as he gets his daily recommended serving of beef, anyway.