Heading into this season, many questions surrounded Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams.
How would he be affected by the addition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony? How would he deal with the loss of his “‘Stache Bro” Enes Kanter, who was sent to the New York Knicks in exchange for Melo? Would he finally take a major step forward and live up to his massive contract? Would he finally show off an improved offensive game?
While most of the focus has rightfully been on the dynamic trio of reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, two-way star George and offensive mastermind Anthony, the 7-foot, 255-pound Adams has quietly gotten off to an excellent start to the campaign.
Benefitting from Kanter’s absence from the rotation, Adams has played 30 or more minutes in all five games so far this season. As a result, he has not only carved out a significant role for himself, but he’s been one of the most efficient frontcourt offensive players in the entire NBA so far.
While it’s obviously a small sample size, let’s take a look at his last three games.
In a narrow 115-113 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, he posted 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting along with 13 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal.
In a 114-96 victory on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers, he had 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting along with 11 boards, an assist, two blocks and two steals over 31 minutes.
Finally, in a 119-116 loss to the Timberwolves on Friday, he dropped 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting with eight rebounds, an assist and a block in 32 minutes.
Therefore, in his last thee games, he has averaged 18.0 points on 68.6 percent shooting with 10.7 rebounds in 32.7 minutes per contest.
He has also gone 11-of-15 (73.3 percent) from the free throw line through five games, which is an improvement over his 61.1 percent mark last year. Over his last three games, he has gone a perfect 6-for-6.
Holding career averages of just 7.6 points and 6.5 rebounds in 23.8 minutes per game, this could finally be the breakout offensive season for the massive New Zealander that Thunder fans have been hoping for. Since the dynamic trio of Westbrook, George and Anthony garner so much interest from opposing defenses, Adams has made the most of being the fourth or fifth option on the court at any given time.
While he has never been known for his passing ability, he has also had a few nice looks this year, none of which have been smoother than this dime:
Adams has also assumed the role as a defensive enforcer in the post as well as an overall leader.
“When you have a new team like we do, the most valuable thing you have is communication,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan recently told Erik Horne of NewsOK.com. “Steven is a great communicator as it relates to trying to make sure everybody's on the same page.”
Donovan continued, “Steven does a very good job in dead ball situations, talking to guys about different things that he's seeing or different things that he maybe wants to change or alter or how he can help.”
While the Thunder are considered to have one of the best trios in the NBA, it appears as though OKC might actually have a “Big Four”. If Adams can continue his efficient offensive play, the Thunder could be an even more dangerous threat to Western Conference foes as the season rolls along.