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Taking A Look At Steven Adams’ Future

When Steven Adams declared for the draft, I don’t think even he would have been able to predict the situation he is in now.

A key contributor on one of the title favourites, somebody able to fit into the Oklahoma City Thunder’s system with ease, AND already an internet favourite due to his propensity to be elbowed in the face? What a fairytale! Not to mention the fact he landed on the side with the worst centres in the league, and his career could not have started more smoothly.

Let’s be honest for a second here – it couldn’t have gone much better. Imagine for a second, if Adams got drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks. He’d be languishing on the worst team in the league, in a clogged frontcourt, and on a side nobody cares about. Even our most core media followers would be getting a bit tired of reporting on his performances in continual losses, and who knows, maybe Larry Sanders would have become a mentor, and things would have gone pear-shaped quickly.

Thankfully, the exact opposite has happened, and now New Zealand basketball fans are looking at the realistic prospect of Adams playing in the NBA Finals.

But, like all inquisitive basketball fans, I started to look forward. How high is Adams’ ceiling? He probably won’t be an All-Star, but can he be a 10-year veteran? Will his progress stall if he can’t improve offensively?

With all these questions running through the mind, I decided to look at the stats, and take your opinions on player comparisons for Adams – what current NBA player could you see Adams end up like, in terms of playing ability?

I got some good responses, but let’s first rule out some comparisons for Adams which I have been hearing for some time now.

Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez is the total opposite to who Steven Adams is, with Lopez being an offensive wizard, who doesn’t do much in the way of hustling, defending, or securing rebounds. So he’s out.

Byron Mullens

You don’t believe this happened, right?

“What’s next, comparing him to Andrea Bargnani??”

Well, let me present to you http://www.nbadraft.net/players/steven-adams.

“NBA Comparison: Byron Mullens”

It’s a prediction that some day will rival this as the worst ever to grace an NBA draft website

Joakim Noah

Noah’s hustle? I get the similarity. Noah’s elite passing and elite defence? I don’t get the similarity

Now, with those just plain wrong comparisons out of the way, it’s time to take a look at which players NZhoops readers think are suitable comparisons to our Kiwi talent. Let’s start off with the comedians:

The “Not Sure If Serious” Responses:

Big Country Reeves! Reeves started out so fast, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds one year, before injuries cut his career short after just six seasons.

JT just described every NBA player to have ever played the game. So, I guess he’s not wrong!

Quick Tangent: Check out Muresan dominating this midget in the post… Oh wait, that’s Patrick Ewing!

“How Dare He Sully The Good Name Of A Kiwi”:

While I do see the similarities offensively to Bogut, defensively Adams will need a lot of improvement, and his passing will likely never reach Bogut’s level. I do agree that getting one up on Mr.Longley would be fantastic however! But really, nobody wants to be compared to an Australian, so lets move on.

“A More Sane Version Of…”:

Both good comparisons, Adams has Psycho T’s hustle down to a… well, a T, and I could very much see him turning into a lesser-tattooed, more sane Birdman with some defensive work.

“Comparisons Only A Portland Fan Would Make”:

This is by no means a degrading comparison, with Przybilla being one of the best per-minute rebounds in the league for a long stretch, and managing to stay relevant for over 10 seasons. I like the comparison, but it’s probably at the low-end, lets aim a little higher…

“Tyson Chandler”:

Do we have a consensus with Tyson Chandler? The offensive game is very similar – high energy, efficient guys who can finish at the basket, clog up the lane and avoid taking jumpers, and Adams has the athleticism to potentially become a poor-man’s Chandler defensively. However, I think there’s a better comparison still to be made.

I took a quick look at some stats – here are the list of players in the past 10 years who have put up stats similar to Steven Adams in their rookie year: http://bkref.com/tiny/YXYmk.

Obviously, that group is nowhere near perfect, but it provides some context to how Adams’ career can turn out. Look at the names there – the closest any of them came/will come to being a superstar are David West and DeAndre Jordan, while there is still some concern that Adams could turn into Jan Vesely, or Lavoy Allen.

But, one name stands out as a comparison that could be nearly spot-on in forecasting Adams’ future – a healthy Anderson Varejao.

The Varejao comparision fits like a glove for me. Sideshow Andy was never part of the Cavaliers offence for his first few years in the NBA, but worked on his rebounding to a stage where he became one of the most underrated big-men in the association. Able to hit free-throws, over the past few years his offensive game has developed to the point where he can hit a mid-range jumper, and he would have been an All-Star last season had he not gotten injured.

Steven Adams is never going to be an MVP. But a long-time starting centre, who becomes a border-line All-Star and near-league leading rebounder? I think we could all get behind that scenario.

How about a new haircut too?

varejao

Like a particular player comp in this article? Or have one of your own. Let me know on Twitter, or have you say in the comments below!