The NBA Draft was more than a little unpredictable this year. Starting with the Cleveland Cavaliers picking Anthony Bennett out of UNLV (my pick would have been Georgetown’s Otto Porter). That set off a lot of changes up and down the draft. Plenty of trades. But at the number 12 spot, Oklahoma stood pat and took Steven Adams as many expected.
Adams, the 7-foot center who spent one season at Pitt after emigrating from New Zealand, is the fifth Pitt player to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft and the first since Vonteego Cummings in 1999. The other Panthers taken in round one were Charles Smith and Jerome Lane in 1988 and Eric Mobley in 1994. He is the first Pitt freshman to be selected in the first round.
Adams is the fifth player coached by Jamie Dixon to be selected in the draft, following DeJuan Blair and Sam Young (second round in 2009), Aaron Gray (second round in 2007) and Chris Taft (second round in 2005).
Selfishly, I would have loved for Adams to stay at Pitt another year. Yes, he would have further developed, but I’m not convinced that he would have gone much higher in the draft in 2014. (Not to mention the possibility of injuries.)
Not because of how he would be used at Pitt. Or as some want to believe that Dixon would waste him. It’s simply the numbers.
The 2014 draft already looks loaded. It will have players like Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson, James McAdoo, the usual slew of one-and-dones from Kentucky, Euro players we know nothing about, and plenty of others. 2014 is shaping up to be one of those high talent draft years.
So by going now, he starts earning the money a year earlier. Even with the rookie scale, he will be making over $2 million in his first year.
He’s also decided that he wants to help his vast and far-flung family financially. There will be many open hands now thrust in his direction, as our rugby players found when they received their first pay cheques back in the mid-90s.
Hopefully, his management can keep a little money out of reach for his own future.
And by getting drafted by Oklahoma City, Adams is probably in the best spot possible. He is heading to the D-League, but unlike a lot of other franchises, OKC actually uses the NBDL to actually develop players.
“Once again, Thunder U is served,” vice president/assistant general manager Troy Weaver said.
Considered a project, Adams played one season at Pittsburgh and almost certainly will spend his rookie season playing with the Tulsa 66ers, the Thunder’s Developmental League affiliate.
Asked what he thought of that scenario, Adams momentarily drew a blank.
“Playing in Tulsa? … Oh, sorry. Yeah, yeah, yeah. My bad,” Adams said. “No, I don’t mind. Either way. I’m just committed to the coaches and just making sure I do whatever they say. If they feel I’m ready to be a Thunder, then that will work. If they don’t and I’m going to Tulsa, that’s just how it is.”
Reasonably certain, that Adams didn’t have that much of an opportunity to learn the geography of the US in the past year.
It’s amusing as in the course of the interviews and night, Adams seemed to fluctuate from saying stock things.
Adams seemed to get it Thursday night, telling reporters at the draft: “All I’m trying to work on right now is rebounding, blocking shots, defense and running the lanes. All the base sort of stuff. I’ll start from there and I’ll try to branch off. Whatever the coaches want.”
Then he becomes the 19-year old kid.
“Man this feels electric! Thank you for all the support whanau and friends.”
Among that family support was sister and two-time Olympic gold medalist Valerie Adams.
Soon after todays drama, Steven Adams told ONE News Jack Tame “the chicks in OKC are mean and the team has its own chef”.
He also tweeted a shout out to a NZ Breakers star player, saying: “Big thanks to Alex Pledger for supporting me from the start.”
Adams is super excited about playing with Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and, at draft time today, only heard the letter “Sss&”, which indicated he’d been picked number 12 in the draft - then he felt dizzy.
But afterwards he was “stoked” Oklahoma was where he wanted to go.
But seriously Adams. Find a really good manager who can tell you (and members of your large family) “no” when it comes to spending and supporting. You are still just one injury from it all ending quickly.