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Oklahoma City Thunder player review Steven Adams: two steps forward, one step back

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Steven Adams began the season in style; however, late struggles leave Adams’ OKC role in question

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Full Name: Steven Funaki Adams

Contract Status: On October 31, 2016, following a breakthrough postseason, Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti inked 23-year-old Steven Adams to a 4-year $100 Million extension.

Player History:

  • Acquired: #12 overall pick, 2013 Draft by Oklahoma City Thunder
  • College: Pittsburgh
  • Years Pro: 4
  • NBA Debut: October 30, 2013
  • Born: July 20, 1993
  • Position: Center

2016-17 Player Statistics:

  • Games Played: 80
  • Minutes Per Game: 29.9 (career-high)
  • Points Per Game: 11.3 (career-high)
  • Rebounds Per Game: 7.7 (career-high)
  • Assists Per Game: 1.1 (career-high)
  • Blocks Per Game: 1.0
  • Field Goal %: 57 percent
  • Free Throw %: 57 percent
  • Player Efficiency Rating: 16.4 (career-high)

16-17 Pre-Season/Early-Season Expectations:

With the departure of Kevin Durant, and having experienced postseason success, the ball -in addition to new contract- was placed in Adams' hands early.

As regular-season play began, Adams embraced an expanded role in Oklahoma City’s offense while providing physicality alongside Russell Westbrook, thus fulfilling GM Sam Presti’s vision.

During his first 20 games, the burgeoning center averaged 10.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.2 spg, and 1 bpg, while shooting 54/78 from the field and free-throw line.

Regular Season Grade: B

Throughout a winding season, Adams completed an expected jump from secondary player to featured option.

The New Zealand native battled diligently underneath as his offensive repertoire flourished. After outwitting foes with ambidextrous hooks, soft floaters, and refined spin moves, smarter coaches began double-teaming Adams.

In OKC’s opening 58 contests, behind averages of 12.1 ppg, 8 rpg, 1.1 spg, 1.1 bpg and 56/65 FG/FT% Adams staked his claim among the league’s rising big men.

Meanwhile, reconfigured Oklahoma City forged sustainable competitive position.

Vital to this success, Adams garnered 16 double-doubles as the Thunder finished 47-35 and collected the Western Conference’s #6 seed.

Though, while Adams’ 16-17’ campaign represented a career-apex, following All-Star Weekend, Adams saw his offensive role (-1.8 FGA) and free-throw accuracy (-19%) wane.

Playoff Grade: C

Unfortunately, Adams’ downturn continued in OKC’s unsuccessful five-game opening-round set vs. Houston. While further receding at the foul-line (36 percent), the once offensively integrated Adams received just 5.6 shots per game.

However, following game one’s humbling rout, the 23-year-old’s defensive resolve, plus/minus (+38), and offensive rebounding numbers (4 ORB per) each rose to respectability.

While Adams’ stark free-throw dip is concerning, he cannot be faulted for no longer receiving quality post-up or pick-and-roll shot attempts.

Future Expectations:

Signed to a lucrative deal, Adams should enjoy a featured role in Oklahoma City’s future. Although, with a sizable offensive portion removed from his plate, one may ask just how prominent this role will now be.

Further, rumors have begun circulating concerning a retool in Oklahoma City’s post-oriented style of play. If such change should occur, Adams’ shots should remain at 6-7 per game.

Nonetheless, expect Adams to continue to log 30 mpg, while crashing the glass and serving as an invaluable defensive cog who will provide occasional points/rebounds outbursts.

Most Notable Game/Moment:

12/9/2016 vs. Houston Rockets

Ironically, Steven Adams’ top professional outing came in a three-point loss to Houston. On that night, Adams showcased his best, making 8-of-9 FGA’s and 8-of-9 FTA’s to finish with 24 points and ten rebounds.

To highlight his breakthrough year, Adams added seven 20+ point games, with three 20-point 10-rebound offerings.

Stay tuned to Welcome to Loud City for upcoming Oklahoma City Thunder seasonal player reviews and analysis.