After the first 2 games, UCLA has looked both brilliant and troubling. Their struggles to beat UC Irvine in overtime deflated some of the good vibes after their debut win against Indiana State. Of course, there is the lingering drama with Shabazz Muhammad that continues to get more confusing as the days go by. But the bright spot so far has been the revelation of Jordan Adams.
Adams is the first UCLA freshman to have back-to-back 20 point games since Kevin Love in 2007. The Bruins needed all 16 of his free throws to beat UCI, including the two he made to send the game into overtime. So far, he’s emerged as the Bruins go-to-guy and he’s showing exactly why Oak Hill Academy in Virginia produces ready-made players like Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony and Josh Smith.
It begs the question. At least until (or if) Muhammad is eligible, should Jordan Adams move into the starting lineup?
He finished the UC Irvine game alongside Larry Drew, Kyle Anderson, David Wear and Travis Wear. To me, this could easily work full-time because you have somebody in Adams who’ll look for his own shot. UCLA struggled to find their offense late in against Irvine and having Adams log more minutes could give the team a better perimeter threat.
What I’ve seen so far out of Anderson is that he can score and rebound well but he’s not asserting himself just yet. Having another scorer on the floor could make things easier for him as he gets comfortable. The same with Drew, who hit the go-ahead shot against Irvine but has done a better job setting guys up in the first two games.
As it stands, Norman Powell is the fifth starter and it’s a credit to his tenacious defense. Adams has outplayed him so far and while I like Powell as a player, it could better serve the Bruins to start an offensive spark plug for a defensive one.
Yet I think Adams is best coming off the bench for now. The Bruins only played centers Tony Parker and Josh Smith off the bench, which shows there is a lack of decent perimeter options. I think it’s similar to when the Lakers used Lamar Odom as a sixth man even though he was good enough to start. It gives the Bruins depth and right now I think it’s a smart call as they move through the easy part of the schedule.
But if the Bruins lose a game or two, don’t be surprised if Adams’ role increases. As the Bruins face James Madison tonight, his play will be something to key an eye on.