Before the 2013-14 NBA season began, Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder was receiving rave reviews from all around the sports’ world. Thunder fans were particularly happy about Adams’ performance in the Summer League and throughout the preseason. That joy carried over into the regular season as Adams continued to display his talents. Everyone knew the Thunder was in need of more production from the center position — a problem that appeared to be shrinking with each positive possession from Adams. Analyst, fans and writers, including myself, were calling for the benching of Kendrick Perkins as Adams’ stock raised.
The boycotting of Perkins’ role reached the peak when Adams put up 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in a victory over the Detroit Pistons. That performance still stands as the only time he has eclipse double-figures in points or rebounds so far this season. It would also be the only time this season he saw more than 30 minutes of playing time. Lately, Adams hasn’t been the giant spark-plug that had everyone’s hopes up early. His minutes have shrunk and so has his role on the team; a direct result of that could be due to the improved defensive efforts by Perkins lately. I figured he wouldn’t just sit still and let some rookie swoop in and take his job.
Either way, you can’t truly be upset with the situation. As long as OKC continues to see solid production at the five spot, we won’t be hearing much complaining from anyone, except me at the moment. I believe that Adams is the better all-around player, but it still may be in his and the Thunder’s best interest to be patient. You have to be careful with rookie-centers in this league; it’s a tough position to adjust to early in your career. It took Roy Hibbert a few years before he really got things going on both sides of the basketball. The last center to make an immediate all-around impact was Dwight Howard winning Rookie of the Year honors.
Adams may not ever be as good as Howard, but the Thunder isn’t worried about squeezing a Hall of Fame career out of him. They just need a solid big man who can grab rebounds, block shots and not fumble the ball consistently when going up for a basket, as the Shaqtin’-A-Fool regular, Perkins does. I expect them to get everything they expect out of Adams eventually, but now is not that time. The Thunder is rolling and there’s no reason to tamper with the team’s chemistry by benching Perkins. They may want to separate completely from Perkins before they name Adams the starter. It may have to do with Perkins’ play mostly, but you can bet that respect for the veteran also plays a factor.