Scouting Steven Adams

Friday, May 17, 2013
By Jaryd Wilson

Pittsburgh v Wichita State

As we get approach the 2013 NBA Draft, we are reaching out to local experts to help us scout some of the players the Hawks may take in the first round.  We had Anson Whaley from CardiacHill.com help us scout Pittsburgh center Steven Adams.

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Other than his athleticism for his height, Adams has three main strengths as I see them – his rebounding, defense, and ability to run up and down the floor. He was able to step in for Pitt as the starting center right away and rebounded and defended well. He even posted a couple of double-digit rebound games in the non-conference portion of the Panthers’ schedule. While the competition wasn’t the most difficult, he still had some impressive performances considering he wasn’t very used to the American style of basketball. Adams also runs the court incredibly well and has the ability to get out quickly on fast breaks and beat defenders for some easy transition baskets.

The part of his game that needs the most work is his offense. Adams is very raw when it comes to the offensive end, and while he improved as the season went along, he still is without a consistent ‘go to’ move. Many times it was evident he was trying to think his way through what he wanted to do – it just hasn’t been fully natural to him yet. His hands and play around the basket could use work as well. Adams frustrated fans at times by trying to lay the ball in rather than dunk it while he was around the hoop. And to top it off, he is a poor free throw shooter and currently without much of a jump shot. His offense leaves quite a bit to be desired.

What did he add to his team in college? What do you think he’ll bring to an NBA team?

For Pitt, specifically, Adams gave the team a much-needed defensive presence inside. He rebounded well and averaged about two blocks a game while altering quite a few more. Adams clogged the lane and made guards think twice before coming inside. He won’t contribute much on offense right away in the NBA, and rebounding in the pros won’t be as easy as it was in college. But if nothing else, he should provide a solid presence in the paint from the time he steps on the court. And eventually, the rebounding and the offense will come.

What kind of style is he best suited for?

Adams is very athletic and in reasonably good shape, so a team that gets out and runs would be a good fit for him. Eventually he should adjust to the slower pace of a grind it out half-court set but he’s not there entirely right now. Adams is also a solid passer so an offense that thrives on ball movement would work as well.

What sets him apart from other draft prospects at his position?

At this stage, it’s his rare combination of height and agility. Adams is a very athletic player and while he isn’t as developed as many of the other players in the Draft, he has a world of potential. There just aren’t too many seven-footers that are as athletic as he is.

What NBA player would you compare him to?

I’ve been comparing him to the Spurs’ Tiago Splitter a lot. Splitter isn’t considered a star, but Adams has a long way just to catch up with him. He’s a big athletic center that has really come pretty far all things considered. I could see Adams developing into that type of player – athletic, high energy, and a very solid contributor. He’s not on Splitter’s level right now, but that’s the type of player I could envision him becoming.

What’s your favorite memory of him at Pittsburgh?

Probably seeing the growth he made by the end of the season when he started to come into his own. He rarely was dominant at Pitt, but by the time he played his last game in the NCAA Tournament against Wichita State, he had advanced significantly as a player. I remember watching him in the press area for both of Pitt’s preseason games against Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and Hawaii-Hilo, and seeing him up close, he was extremely raw. He was playing against shorter Division II players and still fighting to make a big impact. But in the last game against the Shockers, he was one of the few players who did much of anything for Pitt with a double-double against, what we found out, was a good team. He’s still very undeveloped, but there’s no denying that he improved as the year went on.

Here’s what some of the national mock drafts are saying about Adams:

NBA.com Analysis: The Hawks clearly have a need at shooting guard, as Lou Williams still came off the bench even when he was healthy. Caldwell-Pope, the SEC player of the year, averaged 18.5 points and should be a very good 3-point shooter in the NBA. And I’m guessing that unlike Dwight Howard, he wouldn’t mind playing in Atlanta after starring at UGA. He’s also a solid defensive player, and really looks like a perfect fit for the Hawks.

ESPN.com Analysis: Right now, scouts feel Adams has the most upside of the young bigs left on the board. Adams has the NBA body and toughness, but he remains incredibly raw offensively.

CBSSports.com Analysis: Click here for stats.

YahooSports.com Analysis: The Hawks have needed a solid big man, well, pretty much forever. They also need a shooting guard, but finding a true center should be the top priority. Adams is going to be a bit of a project, but he’s 7’0” tall, athletic for his size and should thrive at running the floor. He’ll need to work hard to develop an inside game worthy of the NBA, but has enough upside that someone will grab him in the first round.

Photo courtesy of SBNation.com

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