Steven Adams spins on a post move vs. Jaxson Hayes

Five things to know about Pelicans center Steven Adams

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

1)      Adams is one of four players in NBA history born in New Zealand, with just two of those being active (Aron Baynes is the other) and one currently Brooklyn’s top basketball executive and a former New Orleans Hornets reserve big (Sean Marks). The 27-year-old Adams was born July 20, 1993, in Rotorua, a city of 75,000 people. One of his sisters, Valerie, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the shot put.

2)      He adds to a New Orleans roster already teeming with former lottery picks. Adams was the No. 12 overall choice in the 2013 draft by Oklahoma City, after spending one college season playing for Pittsburgh. He averaged just 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds with the Panthers, but NBA teams thought so highly of his potential and pro-ready frame (now 6-foot-11, 265 pounds) that he rapidly ascended mock drafts that spring.

3)      Throughout Adams’ seven-year NBA career, it’s often been said that you can’t measure his impact by individual stats (averages of 9.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 block), but his teams have been consistently successful. The Thunder reached the playoffs six times during his tenure, missing the postseason only in ’15, when Kevin Durant sat out 55 games due to injury and OKC was edged by New Orleans for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Adams has totaled 59 playoff games (41 starts) and advanced to the conference finals in ’14 and ’16, where the Thunder were ousted by San Antonio and Golden State, respectively.

4)      Adams has served as a backline anchor at center for several very good OKC defensive teams. Despite major roster turnover last season, the Thunder finished seventh in efficiency, allowing just 108.1 points per 100 possessions. The previous season, OKC was the NBA’s fourth-best defensive squad (106.5). New Orleans is focused on trying to make major strides at the defensive end, coming off a season in which it placed No. 21 in efficiency. During the ’18-19 campaign, the Pelicans were 22nd.

5)      Partly behind Adams’ contributions, OKC swept NOLA 4-0 last season. Adams played in three of those games, using his physical presence to register a double-double each time, averaging 14.0 points and 11.0 rebounds. Those efforts came in Thunder wins by margins of five, three and five points. On Feb. 13 in the Smoothie King Center, Adams drained the first three-pointer of his NBA career, using a baseball toss to sink a shot from beyond halfcourt at the halftime buzzer.

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