For obvious reasons, Scott Brooks has made it a point to temper expectations around Steven Adams, making sure that both he and those around him understand that he hasn’t proven anything and that there’s work to be done.
Following his stellar 10-point, 15-rebound game against the Pelicans on Thursday, Brooks shot it down pretty good telling reporters, “It’s going to be hard to duplicate 10 points, 15 rebounds. Those are All-Star numbers.”
Yeah, averaging 15 rebounds a game kind of doesn’t happen much anymore, as in it hasn’t happened since 2010-11 with Kevin Love and only three times in the last 15 years. I don’t think anyone necessarily is losing their mind to think Adams is going to average a double-double this season, but the flashes of potential were obvious as he dominated the paint against the Pelicans. His touch around the basket, his ability to catch and finish in traffic, his activity on the offensive glass — he’s still a work in progress but something’s there.
“I think Steven did a good job last night,” Brooks said Friday at practice. “He did a good job protecting the basket and did a good job being around the basket when needed. He has offensive skills that we like. He can roll, he can catch and he can finish around the rim.”
The assumption on draft night when Adams was picked was that he was a project, and that he should go ahead and purchase the super deluxe Pike Pass package and prepare for some long nights on the Turner Turnpike headed to Tulsa. I even joked on draft night that David Stern should’ve handed him a 66ers hat instead of a Thunder one.
But Brooks said at practice Friday that the team doesn’t really have a plan to send Adams to the D-League, at least right now. Rather they’re going to just play things by ear and see what happens.
“It’s something that we never talked about,” Brooks said of Adams and the D-League. “We just focus on what we do here. If players go down and play in the D-League in Tulsa that decision is made during that time. But right now, I’m not even going that way with any of our guys. We like to have our guys here because they need to understand what we do and how we do it and it’s great for them to have a chemistry with the new guys or the guys trying to make the team.”
OK, so that doesn’t necessarily mean Adams won’t play in the D-League, it just means there’s no current plan for him to be there. And with the way he’s performing, it seems that he’s cementing his spot on the active roster more and more. He might be raw, he might be a rookie and Brooks might have a history of trusting veterans over young players — which continues to be weird to me — but when you can play and produce, especially at a position of need, you’ve got value.
Where he lacks is a bit on the defensive end, specifically in communication and rotation breakdowns. It’s hard to always be in the right spot at the right time while still making sure you communicate to your teammates. Being the interior player on defense has a lot that comes with it. You’re kind of quarterbacking the shell because you have everything happening right in front of you.
Said Nick Collison on Friday: “He’s learning how to play. And learning the coverages and learning how to communicate them and that’s a lot to handle for a young player and as the year goes on we’ll get more comfortable and with that comes the communication.
“I think we had stretches where we were really good and stretches where we were pretty bad, particularly defensively,” Collison said. “Our young guys are trying hard. They’re still making some mistakes because a lot of it’s still new to them, but I’ve been encouraged and impressed with the work those guys have done.”
SCOTT BROOKS 10/18 PRACTICE
On Serge Ibaka’s shooting: “I don’t think he can shoot the ball as well as he did last year. If he can stay at that clip for the rest of his career that’s going to be historical numbers. Because he doesn’t miss shots from 17, 18 feet.”
NICK COLLISON 10/18 PRACTICE
On the chemistry with Jeremy Lamb: “He’s trying to find his way. And we’re trying to find out the best way to get him involved in the offense and a lot of that’s going to be playing some two-man game with me and so it’s a work in progress. The more easy shots we can get him out of the offense where he’s moving and catching the ball and not having to create something against a set defense the better off he’ll be and the better off we’ll be.”
On offense: “I think we need to get more shots more baskets out of good offense, not having to create offense.” Wise, Nick Collison is.