The Oklahoma City Thunder used the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft to select center Steven Adams out of Pittsburgh. Adams wasn’t heralded much in his brief college career, but his testing at the NBA combine turned the heads of scouts with his size, finesse and athleticism, all of which ultimately landed him with the Thunder.
However, in terms of skill, Adams still has a ways to go before he’s on an NBA level. He doesn’t have much of a low-post game and still needs to work with his footwork and positioning on both ends of the floor. Coming into training camp, he will need to show progression in those areas as he could be competing with Daniel Orton for a spot on OKC’s roster this season.
Two years after being selected in the first round out of Kentucky, Orton hasn’t had a great deal of success or opportunity. Last season with the Thunder, Orton appeared in only 13 games and played just eight minutes per night. Orton looked good in the D-League, last year, though. In 29 games he averaged 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.2 blocks in 28.2 minutes per game while shooting 53.4 percent from the floor.
We all got a chance to see both Orton and Adams at the Orlando Summer League this year. Everyone knew what to pretty much expect from Adams, but Orton showed up and surprised people. Orton arrived at Summer League looking in much better shape than he did last season, which allowed him to show off some surprising and impressive athleticism.
At Summer League, Adams finished with averages of nine points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 27 minutes per game on 60 percent shooting. Orton outshined him, though, averaging 12 points, five rebounds, one steal and 1.7 blocks in only 16.7 minutes per game while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor.
There’s no doubt that Adams has potential in this league, but he needs time to develop. Orton is a guy who has time in the D-League under his belt and made noticeable strides in his game. It could be that the Thunder want to get Adams on the floor, but Orton could make that a hard decision for them to make depending on how he looks at camp.
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