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Steven Adams’ communication remains crucial to Thunder’s defensive success

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Truly elite team defense is the rarest of things, and the Thunder center understands what is necessary to make it work.

NBA: New York Knicks at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In a recent piece by Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript, he describes the interaction between Thunder big man, Steven Adams, and offseason newcomer, Patrick Patterson:

“Mere minutes in, Adams pulled his power forward over during a timeout... "Drop back a bit more on those screens," he advised Patterson, who was perched up against the scorer's table, how to defend pick-and-rolls. He continued, explaining how he wanted Patterson to defend when he was guarding away from ball screens.”

Us having the opportunity to witness such a moment can be so satisfying, as it provides paramount evidence of how far Adams has come during his 5-year tenure with the Thunder. And as Katz mentions, mid-game lecturing isn’t anywhere near a new concept. It’s up to pre-existing players on a team to reinforce a coaches specific system, how members of the team coincide when defending against pick-and-rolls, and how opponent's screens should be dealt with.

This year’s Thunder lineup is jam-packed with some serious defensive upside. The combination of Paul George and All-Defensive Second teamer Andre Roberson may just be enough to make three-point snipers have second thoughts about taking late-game shots. And as far as Adams’ defensive aggression goes, he claims he has to give credit to where it’s rightfully due:

"Nick Collison and [former Thunder center Kendrick Perkins] are the ones that really helped me to just make little checkpoints everywhere when you're running and kind of make reads: the other players' body language, what they're about to do just to be a couple steps ahead," Adams said. "So, as the years went on, I tried to get used to that and just watching more film and seeing what tendencies are and whatnot."

After all, when you factor in the overwhelming amount of offensive capabilities OKC boasts, a defense that would be able to contend alongside the highly competitive nature of the western conference would be an invaluable characteristic.