In Friday night’s Rising Stars Showcase at All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, Thunder backup center Steven Adams did what Thunder fans would expect him to do, show up big on defense.
Adams had a couple of nice dunks and scored six points, but he also blocked four shots and altered others while he was in there.
“I thought Steven played well,” said his Thunder assistant Rex Kalamian who was the head coach of the Western Conference Rising Stars. “If you look at his box score he’s one of those guys that you can’t judge his game by the box score because he does so many little things throughout the game.”
Adams has impressed everyone with his play so far this season. When the Thunder took him with the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft many fans and media questioned the pick.
No one is questioning it now though. In fact, Adams is on track to become just the sixth rookie since 1985 to average at least 14 minutes per game on a team that wins 60 games.
“It's a huge compliment to him and to the people that voted him and selected him to be here,” Kalamian said. “So for him to be selected to play in this game, people see that he has value.”
Adams didn’t really know what to expect last night and he was running on fumes. The Thunder and the Lakers played the last game on the NBA schedule before the All-Star break on Thursday night. Since it was in Los Angeles, the Thunder All-Star representatives didn’t get to New Orleans until about 6 o’clock Friday morning and then Adams and Kalamian had to be at practice three hours later.
Even with the travel inconveniences Adams has had a blast.
“It’s been very entertaining, the crowd was very different, it’s been a lot of fun.”
And it looks like it’s just going to get better.
“He has tremendous potential,” Kalamian said. “It's all based on his growth and how quickly he picks the game up from his position, the opportunity that he receives in terms of minutes and how hard he's going to work at it. A lot of that stuff is going to come from within. But he's a diligent young man and he works hard. He's got a good spirit about him and he wants to learn and grow.”
Adams teammates Kevin Durant and Reggie Jackson, watched him from courtside last night. Durant and Jackson will be on the floor tonight for All-Star Saturday Night. Durant will be in the Shooting Stars competition and Jackson in the Skills Challenge.
Adams told reporters the Thunder veterans, especially fellow big men Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison have been key to his improvement.
“All the veterans are really, really cool, there's no hidden agendas. They just want you to get better. They're all on the same boat. They try to get you better as fast as they can.”
And right now, that’s very fast indeed.