Steven Adams finally returned into action against the Toronto Raptors after missing nearly four weeks due to a fracture in his right (shooting) hand. In Adams' absence, newly acquired player Enes Kanter has started in the center position. On Sunday, Kanter remained in the starting lineup while Adams came off the bench for the first time this season (Adams played a reserve role all of last season). Adams played for 16 minutes and finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks. He was also a strong defensive presence on the floor, helping to key a critical 3rd quarter stretch where the Thunder went on a 13-4 run, which was critical in winning the game.
It is still unknown whether Adam's will re-gain his starting spot.Coach Scott Brooks has only said, "Going forward, we'll see."
In Kanter's 8 games since being acquired at the trade deadline, he has performed better than expected for the most part. He is averaging 14.3 points on 56% shooting and 9.3 rebounds per game, outstanding numbers for a Thunder position that has never gotten this kind of production. However, Kant'ers defense, particularly with the pick and roll, has been weak and the Thunder have struggled to hold off teams late in games. Adams is vastly superior in this area, so it will be interesting to see how he is used.
Adams likely will need to contend coming off the bench for a while, but he can bolster his candidacy to be a starter again by by increasing his effectiveness on the offensive end of the floor.
Regardless of who ends up starting, if both players can be comfortable with their current role, they would form a dynamic 1-2 punch that not other team outside of San Antonio can match.
Players takeaways on Adams return
"He's still getting his timing back, But he did a great job defensively tonight." Anthony Morrow.
"I was so excited, He's been working so hard. When he got his first bucket, I was so excited for him." Kanter said