Whether they choose to admit it or not, it has become apparent that the Oklahoma City Thunder are desperately in need of an upgrade at the center position. Pittsburgh freshman big man Steven Adams may be just the player they need, and he should receive serious consideration from the franchise.
It’s uncommon for a team that finished the regular season with a record as good as Oklahoma City’s to be drafting in the lottery, but will be selecting 12th thanks to the pick they landed from the Toronto Raptors via the Houston Rockets as part of the James Harden trade.
Current Thunder starting center Kendrick Perkins has been giving the Thunder less and less each season, and despite management’s desire to refrain from amnestying the remaining two years of his contract Oklahoma City would do well to find his eventual replacement as soon as possible. This is where Adams comes into play.
Adams freshman year statistics won’t wow you — he averaged just 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game — but he has the size, athleticism and potential to develop into a solid starting NBA center. Adams also flashed an ability to block shots, as he swatted two blocks per game during his freshman campaign, which projects to 3.7 blocks per 40 minutes.
Playing with the Thunder would allow Adams time to develop his offensive game, given that the Thunder have two of the league’s best scorers on their roster in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Adams will also have the luxury of learning the shot blocking ropes from Serge Ibaka, one of the best rim protectors in the NBA.
Steven Adams may not be a household name as far as NBA draft prospects go but the Thunder wouldn’t need him to contribute much early on, giving him an opportunity to be brought along slowly in some areas. Adams physical attributes — he measured 7′ and 255 lbs at the combine earlier this month — make him an intriguing prospect that the Thunder should seriously consider selecting in June’s draft.