Steven Adams Closing In On Becoming Oklahoma City Thunder's Starting Center

By Brian Anderson
Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder has to be feeling the pressure being applied to him by his backup Steven Adams.

If Perkins is reading the articles, watching the sports shows and monitoring Adams’ production, then he should know that his job as the starter is in serious jeopardy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure all of this out. Through four games this season, Perkins’ and Adams’ minutes are almost identical, which makes it much easier to compare the two. Not only that, but their numbers are extremely similar as well.

We can even say that their style of play is almost identical at this point. An article I read on the Dallas Mavericks‘ blog page pointed out that Dirk Nowitzki has stamped Adams with the nickname “the white Kendrick Perkins”.

The comparison makes sense in some ways, but it doesn’t in most. What Nowitzki sees in both guys is a willingness to do the dirty work down in trenches. Both of these guys are very tough; they live to fight for loose balls, box-out defenders and getting in the heads of opposing players.

We saw Adams get in an altercation with Vince Carter in the Thunder’s Wednesday night victory over the Mavericks. The drama came after Adams hit Carter with an inadvertent elbow that the refs initially missed. Carter retaliated with a deliberate elbow, which the refs saw all of. Carter was hit with a flagrant two, and the punishment for that offense is an automatic ejection with a small fine. The 20-year-old Adams showed that he has some veteran-like ways to get under the skin of players who’ve been around the block a few times.

We’ve seen Perkins do things like this throughout his entire career. He earned his first technical foul last game, and I expect plenty more to come. Technical fouls aren’t anything to gloat about, but I personally love the toughness that Adams has displayed on the court. It’ll make it that much easier for everyone to adjust when he starts getting a heavier workload at Perkins’ expense.

If Perkins is a good sport about it, he could take Adams under his wing and show him the ropes of being a tough hard-nosed center in the NBA. It’ll be fun to watch both of these guys wreak havoc in the paint every game; that is, until the Thunder feel like Perkins’ services are no longer needed.

I feel like Hasheem Thabeet would be better suited to pick up the minutes behind Adams. He creates more problems for teams with his height. Plus, they don’t need two guys who could potential foul out or be ejected in any game. Adams will eventually learn to use his toughness in more productive ways; for now, he’ll be looking to dish out punishment the only way he knows how.

While their numbers are similar, Adams has a +2 advantage in rebounding, pulling down six boards a game compared to Perkins’ four per outing. The biggest difference to me is their turnover differential. Perkins averages 1.8 turnovers per game in only 18 minutes of action. Adams has held on to the ball, averaging only .03 giveaways in just a little less time per game than Perkins sees.

If you include his high number of fouls and his expected high number of technical fouls, Perkins will be nearly giving away more points than he scores. It’s late in his career and his backup is producing more on a nightly basis than himself. It’s only a matter of time before we see Perkins’ minutes per game drop, which will make room for Adams to become the starting center for the Thunder.

It’s as if someone flipped the hourglass and fans are patiently waiting for the time to run out. Adams is proving to be the better player, and the Thunder will have a very solid frontcourt in due time for the first time in the team’s short existence in the league.

Brian Anderson is a NBA writer for Follow him on Twitter @MrAnderson035 “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

You May Also Like