Steven Adams Watch: the starting role brings ups and downs in losses to Clippers and Cavaliers

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With Kendrick Perkins injured, Steven Adams' started for two games. The Thunder lost both.

Before All Star break, Steven Adams' performance was solid if unspectacular.  He played his role of a defensive rim protector, rebounded well, but did not give his team much beyond that.  Now, with Perkins out for 6 weeks, Adams has been assigned to a difficult role.  A position that requires versatile talent.  The starting center.

Throughout the season, Adams' offensive production remained low.  Scoring was never apart of his game, as you can see in his statistics:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2013 - Steven Adams 58 14.4 1.1 2.4 47.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.7 60.8 1.9 2.3 4.2 0.6 1.0 0.4 0.8 2.6 3.3

On the other hand, his defense is nearly 100 percent of his role on the team.  From what I observe, Adams' alertness is what has improved throughout his rookie season.  He has a quick understanding of how to adapt his game and is improving on being at the right place at the right time.  To go along with his intelligence, Adams' is a tough guy.  He rips down rebounds and is extremely aggressive, which is part of his role.  In this clip, his aggressiveness and intelligence meet to result in a fight for a rebound to a sweet bounce for the layup.

After stepping into the starting role over the past week, Adams is still searching to find consistency.

Thunder vs. Clippers February 23rd

Screen_shot_2014-02-27_at_9

Adams got his first start after the Thunder announced that Perkins' injury would keep him out for 6 weeks.  Adams is the starter, but as of yet his minutes have only increased by 2 per game. In Adams' third start and he struggled against DeAndre Jordan's athleticism.  Jordan outscored Adams 18-1 and outrebounded him 12-6. On top of it, Adams frequently lost Jordan on the break and Jordan was able to finish at the rim numerous times. Part of the blame for Jordan's dominance on Sunday can be pointed towards Nick Collison, who was also charged with slowing down Jordan, but Adams looked insecure and unsure when he was on the court.  He committed 3 personal fouls in under 20 minutes of play, which is a problem if he wants to earn more playing time.  I expected Adams to get more shots at the rim, but his offense didn't stand out.

Thunder vs. Cavaliers February 26th

Screen_shot_2014-02-27_at_9

Steven's minutes boosted to 25 in the Thunder's loss to Cleveland.  Adams' offensive performance improved from the last game, as he scored 4 points off of 5 shots, three more shots than he usually takes.  Defensively, he was matched up with an all around offensive threat, Spencer Hawes.  Hawes can make a nice post move or nail a three ball.  Adams' did a decent job of keeping Hawes from scoring inside, but his perimeter defense was not efficient at all.  Hawes made three three pointers off of 50 percent 3 point shooting.  A handful of times, a Cavalier would drive to the paint, Adams would go to help defense and lose Spencer Hawes, which eventually became an open three pointer.

Expectations

Now that he has gotten a taste of starting, I expect Adams' to step up his production in the next few games.  Friday's game is versus the Memphis Grizzlies.  Adams will be matched up with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol.  When healthy, Gasol can unleash his versatile talent.  This upcoming game serves as a test of will for Adams on both ends of the court.  I would also like to see more rebounding from the 7 footer.  In his two starts, he has averaged just 5 rebounds per game.  As the saying goes, "rebounds wins championships."

I will check in next week to review Adams' performance.  For now, go Thunder!

Stats provided by ESPN.com

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If you haven't noticed, I am a new writer.  My name is Justin and I am a high schooler from the New York City area.  I play basketball for my school and am excited to write for WTLC.

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