Steven Adams managed to post a season high against the Minnesota Timberwolves last night, going for 16. It was just a point shy of Adams' career mark of 17, set on November 8th, 2013 in Detroit. Since Adams' career high was set against the intimidating front line of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, it might seem like Steven's performance in Detroit is still the best of his career.
But I can definitively say that what Steven Adams did last night against the Timberwolves was actually the best performance of his career so far. Don't believe me? Here's the highlights from both games. Below the video is my breakdown of every offensive play.
Last Year's Career High (11.8.2013, @Detroit)
- Short Hook- Josh Smith rotates to Adams late, and doesn't body him up. This gives Adams room to complete his short, patented hook shot.
- Fast Break Layup- Steven Adams beats Greg Monroe down the floor and gets supreme post position. Monroe bites on a pump fake, and Adams is clear for the layup.
- Rolling Tip-in- On a successful pick and roll, Drummond defend's Jackson's shot while Adams rolls to the basket. Jackson's shot rims out for a short rebound, and all of the Pistons are on the perimeter. Adams easily tips it in.
- 8-Foot Push Shot- Steven faces up to the basket straight on, somehow losing his defender earlier in the play. He gets the ball from coach Derek Fisher and nails an impressive looking push shot.
- Offensive Board, Layup- Thabo Sefolosha misses a three short, and Adams boxes out Monroe. No one steps up, and Steven is able to lay it in uncontested.
- 8-Foot Hook- Adams spins into Monroe with a power dribble. Monroe doesn't make body contact, and Adams is able to throw in his hook over Monroe's outstretched arm.
- Tough Layup- Steven Adams gets the ball between Monroe and Drummond. He keeps control through a lot of contact and manages to finish the difficult shot.
- Fouled on the Roll- Monroe pressures KD on an Adams screen, and Adams rolls to the basket unhindered. Steven then misses a quick floater over the rotating Josh Smith, and gets fouled on his own offensive rebound.
This Year's Season High (12.12.2014, @Minnesota)
- HUGE DUNK- In transition, Steven Adams receives the ball behind the three point line. After a couple of strides, he's jumping from way outside the restricted area for a monster jam. How many centers can do that?
- Short Hook- Westbrook sucks in both Wiggins and Dieng on a drive, then passes it around them to an open Adams. Adams nails his signature short hook.
- 10-Foot Push Shot- Steven Adams rattles in a rather unique looking 10-foot one handed shot.
- Tip-in- Andre Roberson burns by Andrew Wiggins on the perimeter, forcing Dieng to help. Roberson misses his layup long, but Adams is there to clean up.
- Two-Handed Dunk- Roberson drives the lane, and creates separation between Adams and Dieng. Roberson dishes Adams the ball. Adams jumps from a dead stop outside the restricted area and slams it with two hands. I can guarantee you Perk would have missed a short layup there.
- Short Hook- Steven Adams receives a wild pass from Ibaka in the post, and is forced to collect it 3/4ths of the way up the key. He recovers and nails a short hook over the approaching Dieng.
- Tough Layup- On a simple pick and roll, Adams has the ball knocked away by Dieng on an attempted layup. Then, Adams has the presence of mind to save the ball from going out of bounds. Ibaka immediately shoots the saved ball, and Adams wastes no time going into the paint for the o-board. Ibaka's 3 misses short, and Adams nails it in traffic.
What's the big difference?
Last year's Steven Adams was an opportunistic player. I don't know what was wrong with Greg Monroe that night, because there just wasn't a lot of pep in his step. Adams was able to get open shots with little effort. Furthermore, Adams was a bench rookie at the time. He wasn't expected to even play in his first season coming out of the draft, so to see Steven out there nailing baby hooks was kinda shocking. I can't exactly blame Monroe for playing him a bit loose at the time.
This year's Steven Adams knows how to get his. Look at the confidence Adams shows in his two dunks, aggressively deciding to score the ball before it even reaches his hands. You can also see the confidence in his hooks, which are taken with rhythm and without hesitation. Look at how calmly Steven corrals Ibaka's pass on play 6, and you'll see what I mean. Heck, look at how well Steven was able to recover on the last play, saving his own blocked shot and then scoring on an offensive rebound. That's composure.
Show me his new move!
All this, and I haven't even mentioned the newest weapon in Adams' arsenal! Yes, it's that 10-foot push shot that we saw in play 3. You can see its' predecessor in play 4 of the Pistons reel.
They didn't talk about the shot much on the Timberwolves' telecast. However, on the Thunder telecast, Michael Cage drew an interesting comparison. He called Adams' shot similar to that of George McGinnis, a spectacular basketball player back in the 1970s. Is Cage on to something? Let's check it out. Here's an old highlight reel of McGinnis, in glorious 240p. You'll see McGinnis' signature one-handed shot throughout.
Furthermore, here's a description of McGinnis' shot, courtesy of a 1982 Bruce Newman Sports Illustrated story.
McGinnis' lightning first step and his thundering rushes to the hoop offset the fact that he was never a great jumper. "In high school and college I could jump over guys [because he was bigger]. Then in the pros, I began to hesitate...I think all players have a real fear of having their shots blocked." The result was a sort of one-hand push or shotput move that made purists cringe. Playing next to the supersmooth Erving for two years didn't help. "His shot was considered artistry," McGinnis says, "and mine was considered showboating."
You know what's cool? That highlight reel could be very similar to Steven Adams' highlight reel in a couple of years. There's a lot of reasons behind my thinking. In the reel, you see McGinnis waving around a palmed basketball like it's nothing. Adams often does the same thing, proving that he's got the hand-size to do it. Furthermore, he's doing everything in single coverage. It's not like this is a superstar shot that requires a lot of athleticism or speed. As long as you can keep a double-team off you, you should be able to get it off against a similar sized defender.
But the most important thing to note, I think, is that George McGinnis didn't really have a hook shot. (At least, from what I saw above. I'm too young to have seen him play....) If Adams could theoretically develop his hook shot and push shot concurrently, it would make for a heck of an offensive arsenal. Having both shots could also be essential in creating space for the push shot, which is probably a bit harder to get off against the Goberts of the world.
Of course, Steven Adams still has a long way to go if he wants to be a consistent offensive option. The Thunder have a ton of scorers on their roster right now, and it just doesn't make sense to give Steven Adams more touches. But last night's performance was easily Adams' best since KD's return, and the first time he logged over 25 minutes in 7 games. As long as he continues to play with his excellent presence of mind and works on developing unique skills, there will be an offensive game for this Kiwi yet.
Do you think Steven Adams will develop the push shot? Are you satisfied with his offense one year on? Drop a comment and let us know!