It's no surprise that Steven Adams is getting better- shouldn't that be true for most young players? Time passes, young guys gain experience and improve...that's the way it goes. But Steven Adams is special. Not only are we looking at progress from last season; we are looking at similarities to big name centers in both performance and statistics.
Adams' growth has been marked by his defense. He is currently putting up a similar defensive rating to Joakim Noam and Anthony Davis, two of the best defenders in the NBA.
(Graph analyzes the players in their second NBA season)
(Being that by the time of these players' second seasons, they were playing more minutes than Adams, per 36 stats are used.)
When compared to some well known defensive big men in their second seasons, including OKC's very own Serge Ibaka, Adams puts up similar numbers per 36 minutes. The rebounds are nearly the same, as are the blocks. The one thing that truly stands out is the defensive rating. Steven Adams puts up a better defensive rating than four of the NBA's marquee defenders; two of which went on to win Defensive Player of the Year. That's just a testament to Adams' abilities in protecting the rim.
The remarkable part of all this is that he is doing it at such a raw age of 21. Warriors center Andrew Bogut was 22 after playing two years of college ball. Marc Gasol was 25 and experienced overseas. Joakim Noah was a star at Florida and played for three years. Steven Adams is just 21 and learned to be tough through rugby. He is still a crude talent and is only beginning to break out of his shell.