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2014-2015 Thunder Player Grades: Steven Adams did not change much

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Steven Adams did not improve drastically in any area...well...besides facial hair.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Full Name: Steven Funaki Adams

Nickname: Big Kiwi, Funaki, The Big Hurt

Contract Status: Steve Adams signed a 3 year / $6,554,880 contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, including $6,554,880 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $2,184,960.  In 2014-15 he made $2,184,960.  There is a team option next year and the year after.  He will be a restricted free agent in 2017.

Notable Factoid: Adams comes from New Zealand and aspired to be a professional rugby player.  Adams' father had 18 children with five different women and Funaki is the youngest one.  He has a sister who is a gold medalist shot putter, Valerie Adams.

Player History

As stated above, Steven Adams did not plan on playing basketball when he was young.  Professional rugby was like the NBA of New Zealand: kids wanted to play, Steven included, and basketball was just an odd hobby.  As Adams matured, he realized that he would never become a rugby player, but basketball was a possibility due to his size.  He took up basketball in his teenage years, first playing with his friends and in NZ leagues, and eventually going to America to play basketball for a semester at Notre Dame Preparatory School.  Adams was ranked 6th in ESPN U's top 100 class of 2012.  He committed to the University of Pittsburgh where he played one year and received Big East All Rookie Team honors.  Adams averaged 7.2 PPG, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 block, 57.1 FG% in 23 minutes per game.

The Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Steven Adams 12th overall in the 2013 draft.  His rookie season was promising as he went on to make the All Rookie Second Team, and contributed to rim protection.  In the playoffs, Adams notably took a punch to the face by Zach Randolph which led to Randolph's game 7 suspension and an OKC victory.

Pre-Season Expectations

The theme to Steven Adams' rookie season was development.  When the Thunder drafted him, no one expected him to contribute much, however, he was an intricate element in OKC's Conference Finals run.  Expectations for the foreign big man were relatively high.  He had some nice showings in the Orlando Summer League and appeared to have worked on his inside game and finishing around the rim.  Just like his rookie season, Adams' theme was "development" entering his sophomore year.

Regular Season Grade: C+

Steven Adams started the season on a good note.  He was the starter, he was scoring in double digits, and he was confident with the ball in his hands.  Best of all, he was an animal protecting the rim.  That all changed when he suffered a hand injury against the Clippers.  Adams didn't return until after the trade deadline, where he found himself coming off the bench behind the newly acquired Enes Kanter.  Shortly after returning, due to Serge Ibaka's injury, Adams found himself starting alongside Kanter to form an interesting duo.

Adams saw his minutes per game increase 11 minutes, and most of his numbers went up from last season, but in relation to his heavier workload, his production was underwhelming.

Some of Funaki's defensive numbers went down from last season and many of his offensive numbers stayed the same.  The acquisition of Kanter lessened his role on offense, which hindered his development rate.  Adams did not have a bad season by any measure, but most people expected more from the young big man.

Most Notable Game/Moment: Steven Adams gives Tim Duncan a Christmas present or his epic mustache

On Christmas Day, the Thunder played the Spurs in San Antonio.  Steven Adams put up 16 points on 62.5% shootingand grabbed 15 rebounds on Tim Duncan.  Adams topped off the game with 3 blocks and 2 steals to help propel the injured Thunder to a win.

Future Expectations

It seems as though Enes Kanter is in OKC's plans for the future, but that does not mean Adams development is finished...not even close.  Presti would not have pursued Kanter if he didn't think Adams could help anchor a defense.  Funaki still has a lot to learn and room to grow in all areas of his game, but expect him to be a role player throughout the rest of his NBA career.  One that can step up in the playoffs and be a big reason why the Thunder win a championship.

What did you think of Steven Adams' season?  Let us know in the comments!