Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Role: Bench Player
Analysis: Steven Adams enters training camp, most likely, as Oklahoma City’s backup center. Kendrick Perkins is on an awful contract, and isn’t the formidable defensive player he used to be, but he’s the Thunder’s best option at center right now.
Hasheem Thabeet was OKC’s reserve center last season and averaged 11.7 minutes per game. Adams should be able to beat out Thabeet for the backup position and play between 11 and 15 minutes a night.
The Thunder were 25th in offensive rebounds per game during the 2012-2013 regular season, gathering 10.4 per game. At Pittsburgh, Adams averaged 4.8 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes. Reserve centers Daniel Orton and Hasheem Thabeet both averaged just one offensive rebound per game last season. The 7 footer from New Zealand uses his length, height and quickness off the ground to fight for rebounds and tip ins. He won’t change life for Oklahoma City on the offensive glass, nonetheless is an upgrade.
Rim runs is what Steven Adams did a lot at Pitt. Since he doesn’t have much to offer on offense, Oklahoma City will most likely have Adams do a lot of this on the floor. A rim run is when the first big man runs down the center of the court(straight to the rim) hoping to catch a pass, and get an easy bucket in transition. Adams is coordinated enough to catch the ball, gather his feet without traveling, and finish at the rim. Oklahoma City is one of the fastest teams in the league, and finished 9th in pace. Seeing that Adams was pretty good in college at finishing in transition, he should fit well if the Thunder continue to play at one of the fastest rates in the league.
Because of his seven foot frame and quickness, he has the potential to be a capable defender in the NBA. At Pitt, he averaged two blocks, in just 23 minutes per game. Adams is more mobile and has better lateral movement than Orton, Thabeet, and Perkins on the defensive end. He has the capability to become great at rotating in help situations and hedging the pick-and-roll.
His stats aren’t going to jump out because he is very minimal offensively, along with Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka soaking up most of the minutes in the front-court. Nonetheless, he should be a quality backup center for the Thunder this season.
Statistical Projection: 14 MPG, 3.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG