Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/26/13
Steven Adams has turned enough heads to earn quality minutes with the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, Oklahoma City now has to make room for their 2013 first round pick. How will Scott Brooks use the New Zealand native during the regular season? Steven Adams is turning heads. The Oklahoma City Thunder's top pick from the 2013 NBA Draft (No. 12 overall) was supposed to be a project. He was supposed to be the young big man Scott Brooks and GM Sam Presti drafted and developed to replace Kendrick Perkins in the future. The organization's expectations for Adams seemed reasonably high entering training camp, but most figured he would spend the majority of his rookie year with the Tulsa 66ers, Oklahoma City's D-League affiliate. And with Perkins, Hasheem Thabeet and Nick Collison under contract through the 2014-15 season (Thabeet: 14-15 team option), Adams spending two seasons in Tulsa wasn't completely out of the picture. Not so fast. Although it was just the pre-season and four of the Thunder's opponents likely won't make the playoffs (Istanbul excluded), Adams was extremely impressive in his first seven games. The 20 year-old averaged 7.9 points, eight rebounds and 23.4 minutes per game. He also started two games against the Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz. His points/rebounds in each contest looked like this: 7 points - 6 rebounds - 15 minutes vs. Istanbul Fenerbahce Ulker 6 points - 4 rebounds - 16 minutes vs. Philadelphia 76ers 5 points - 6 rebounds - 18 minutes vs. Denver Nuggets 10 points - 15 rebounds - 33 minutes vs. New Orleans Pelicans 6 points - 10 rebounds - 23 minutes vs. Utah Jazz 10 points - 8 rebounds - 25 minutes vs. Phoenix Suns 11 points - 7 rebounds - 30 minutes vs. Chicago Bulls Three double-digit scoring games and a double-double isn't bad for a project. After seven impressive pre-season performances, Adams' impact at the NBA level may be felt sooner than expected. He has forced Brooks' hand and although they have the more experienced Thabeet, the Thunder have to witness what the New Zealand native can bring in the immediate future before thinking about a transfer to the D-League. How much burn will Brooks give his rookie center? That's yet to be determined. However, 8-10 minutes seems manageable. Brooks frequently rotates the center position, mainly out of necessity. Perkins is barely a 25-minute player and Thabeet is unreliable defending offensively skilled bigs. Collison is the scrappy veteran every NBA team needs, but to get the most out of his skill set, he has to rotate at the power forward with Serge Ibaka.
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