Why the OKC Thunder should unlock Steven Adams other talents

OKC Thunder Center Steven Adams is a key figure for his team but a change in his style of game could help the team go further.

I believe that OKC Thunder big man Steven Adams isn’t only an ‘old school center.’

Adams has always been referred to as an ‘old school center.’ He’s got the amazing power in the post and rebounding ability. You always know he’ll fight for his teammates and sometimes it’s like his crushing screens can be felt through your T.V.

The Kiwi is also someone who goes about his business without any fuss. He’s an easy-going guy who loves to play basketball. That’s why we admire him.

But there’s one thing I believe could be holding him back and something the OKC Thunder could work on to help not only Adams but the team do better in the future.

Why OKC Thunder’s Steven Adams isn’t just an old school center

As what is known as the prototypical center Adams’ main job is to be an anchor in the paint. The Thunder coaching staff are clear on that and that’s what he does best.

But this season in particular with more guards on the floor, Adams didn’t get as many opportunities with the ball in hand. In some ways, he also wasn’t playing like his usual self.

Watching him play in the Thunder’s first-round playoff series against the Rockets made me realize that maybe he’s being held back from unlocking his many other talents. Furthermore, OKC might not be utilizing Adams’ skills in the right way.

The height advantage in this series was intriguing as we expected domination by OKC against Houston’s small-ball lineup. Adams however wasn’t able to play up to these expectations but it also wasn’t entirely his fault.

It happens for all players where things are just not going their way. That’s when they can find other methods to make an impact. This was evident against Houston when James Hardens’ late block won his team game 7 after he struggled offensively.

Similarly, Adams wasn’t able to assert himself, and that’s where a made basket makes a huge difference. Where momentum shifts and a player can gain confidence again from looking for other options to help the team.

Those options are limited for Adams who rightfully does everything he is asked and sticks to his identity as a traditional big man.

This is also one of the reason’s I believe Adams is at the receiving end of unnecessary blame when he is just trying to do what he’s supposed to.

Altering Adams’ game and allowing him to do more as a player such as implementing a mid-range jump shot, more passing and working on his perimeter defense could help Adams have a bigger influence. It will also make him an even stronger force going up against other bigs in the NBA.

This would add depth and unpredictability to OKC’s overall team. He already practices his jumps shots and even half-court shots so it will be about including this consistently in real game situations. At the beginning of last year, he could be seen in this video working on his jumper.

Uncertainty surrounding the Thunder’s roster will also call for some changes to the style of game the team plays moving forward. I’m not saying to change the way Adams plays completely but maybe looking at what areas could be improved and added.

It will be tough to manage with adapting to different players on the squad and also with the departure of Coach Billy Donovan. 

But Adams is more than capable of developing his game, he continues to do that quietly every year.

Maybe this offseason his focus will be to expand his game to beyond what we have previously witnessed. If he does the OKC Thunder will be the benefactors.

Next: Ultimate guide to Steven Adams: The Kiwi Bible