Through an offseason of major reconstruction, Steven Adams became the veteran member of this OKC team. It’s crazy, but he and Terrance Ferguson are the only two active players left from the 2017-18 Thunder. There is no more Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Serge Ibaka. Adams played with all of them. He is now in a new situation and seems to be thriving in the role.
He’s never been a guy that will create his own offense. He doesn’t care about having a spotlight or being a focal point. He’s a good teammate that wants to win basketball games, and doesn’t care about his stats.
He could easily be a double digit rebound guy. He is one of if not the strongest player in basketball and is impossible to move. Everyone loves playing with him, and his opponents hate playing against him.
Adams is very good at helping open up the offense. His improved passing and offensive polish are impressive. He has found good chemistry with Chris Paul; it’s been quite fun to watch the two work together. Have you ever seen a player get hit with an Adams screen? It takes a while for them to get their breath back after running into a brick wall. Adams’ picks create an automatic mismatch, and we’ve seen CP3 humiliate bigs on switches all season. And he’s still one of the best at rolling off a screen and catching a lob, even without Westbrook around.
Adams has also worked on his offense. Each game the Thunder make a concerted effort to get him the first two of the game. With his back to the basket, he’s a physical mismatch for most everyone and can bully his way for a bucket. That size and muscle also helps on the glass. Although the Thunder are down this year overall on offensive rebounding, Adams is still grabbing 3.5 a night. That’s somehow a down year for him, as he’s usually is close to five per night (his drop in minutes is mostly to blame).
He has also been good on defense. That’s no surprise, but he hs had some ups and downs in his career. Injuries have played a large part in the struggles he’s had at times, and he hasn’t always looked himself the last two seasons. He’s been fresher this season, and has the best DBPM of his career (+3.1)
The biggest knock on Steven is still his health. He’s as tough as nails and will try to play through it, but it’s not ideal to see him on the injury report so often. He’s not someone you would consider injury prone, but obviously nagging injuries will have an effect on your game.
He also still struggles at the free throw line, which isn’t something that will make or break his game. He has improved since college, but in the NBA he’s stayed pretty steady for a while now: no upward trend and no downward trend, just hovering between 55 and 60%. However, he is very good at missing free throws on purpose.
Lastly, his defense is good against traditional bigs but against smaller, more agile frontcourt players he can struggle. His foot speed isn’t elite, and he needs to use his strength to move guys around. He likely won’t become someone who can cover a mobile stretch big well.
Final Grade: B+
Although the Thunder are playing incredible basketball with what they have, not everyone can get an A.
He is an old school type of player, and it works for him and the Thunder. He plays that role great, but he makes $25 million per season. I believe he can provide more, and I think he will when he sticks with OKC past the deadline.
His chemistry with these players will continue to grow on offense. If he can up his free throw percentage and become a smarter defender when pulled away from the paint, there is no reason why he can’t finish with an A at season’s end.