In an NBA Draft that was as unpredictable as any in recent memory, former Pitt center Steven Adams was drafted at No. 12 overall by the Thunder in one of the few expected moves.
Adams is the first Panther drafted in the first round since 1999 and is one of four Panthers now in the NBA, joining Aaron Gray, Sam Young and DeJuan Blair.
“All of the New Zealand family was rooting for OKC, so I’m pretty happy that I ended up going [to OKC],” Adams told ESPN’s Shane Battier following his selection.
Adams will join an established Thunder team that acquired the pick when it traded away James Harden to the Houston Rockets last season.
Adams did relay a message to Pittsburgh Panthers fans through the Pitt athletic department’s Twitter page.
“Thank you Pitt for everything that you’ve done,” Adams said. “I’ll always be a Pitt Panther until I die. I just want to thank the [Oakland] Zoo the number one [student section].”
My take: This was a very smart pick for the Thunder. The Thunder already have Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Hasheem Thabeet on their roster. Adams could start the season in the D-League, however he has proven fans wrong before. This pick is an investment; the Thunder have time for him to grow. Perkins is under contract through the 2014-15 season and Ibaka until after the 2016-17 season. Thabeet’s contract expires this year and Collison next.
What this means is that Adams will have some time to grow and mature. At 19, Adams still has plenty to learn but he will learn from established post players. The pick also means he has the potential to play with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook who both are proven winners that can score and distribute the ball.
Because of these reasons, the selection to the Thunder is the best-case scenario for Adams as the pressure will not be as much as it would be in other destinations. The Thunder had scouts come to the Petersen Events Center at least four times last season to scout Adams, so they definitely did their homework with this selection – also a great sign moving forward.
Will Adams succeed right away? I highly doubt it, although stranger things have happened. I believe he could be a factor in a couple of seasons, which is what Thunder coach Scott Brooks is counting on from the seven-footer. Adams is excited and worked extremely hard since the season ended to get to this point, but now it comes down to continuing to want it more than others. That has him this far, however he will have to overcome the initial disappointment of not playing right away while continuing to push himself to grow as a player.
Seth Davis - “Wow Steven Adams goes ahead of Olynyk, Plumlee and Dieng. Not feelin’ it. Steve Adams is a great example of a player who might get drafted high and be out of the league soon bc he’s not ready.”
Kevin Durant - “Welcome Steven Adams”
Mike Lecak - “Okc baby! @RealStevenAdams congrats bro!”
Lamar Patterson - “We seen him all year long…I think he has the highest ceiling in the draft…a lot of pieces to his game y’all have yet to see.”