Solid rookie season return for Steven Adams

ANDY FYERS
Last updated 13:02 21/05/2014
Steven Adams
USA Today Sports

TALL TIMBER: Steven Adams averaged 0.7 blocks per regular season game in his rookie NBA season.

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Kiwi basketballer Steven Adams has made a big impression on the NBA during his rookie season. 

Given he was expected by many pundits to spend most of the season in the NBA D-League (development league), he has exceeded expectations, featuring in 81 of the Oklahoma City Thunder's 82 regular season games.

He has also played in all 13 playoff games so far for the Thunder, with his team advancing to the Western Conference finals. 

Adams was one of 15 rookie big men* to feature in the NBA this season. Of those, four were drafted higher than his 12th pick draft ranking. 

Only one featured in more regular season games than Adams, fourth pick Cody Zeller, and only four averaged more minutes per game. 

Adams also averaged more than two minutes more per game than the No 1 draft pick, Anthony Bennett of the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

His efforts ranked well against the other rookie big men. His strongest statistical categories when ranked against these players on a per game average were offensive rebounding (second), plus-minus (second), field goal percentage (fourth), blocks (fifth) and total and defensive rebounds (sixth). 

The chart below compares Steven Adams regular season statistics to the NBA's other rookie big men on a per game average. 

The next chart compares the same players on a per 48-minute average - which takes into account that some players play more minutes per game than others. On this measure Adams fares better in some categories worse in others. 

Adams has the second worst points per 48 minutes but the fourth best field goal percentage. He takes less shots than other rookies, this is not surprising given he plays with NBA MVP and scoring machine Kevin Durant.

Unlike other big men drafted in the first round, Adams is not expected to contribute big points to his team's cause. His points output is also hampered by his poor free-throw shooting success rate - 58.1 per cent. 

Having compared his stats to his contemporaries we thought it would be interesting to see how he fared in a larger sample size. 

The charts below compare Adams' rookie regular seasons stats to the rookie regular season of every active big man in the NBA, who played more than 500 minutes in that season. 

First up this is done on a per-game average. 

The next chart compares the same players on a per-48-minute average.

These statistics only paint part of the picture, they don't, for example, take into account his ability to create chances by setting screens, the impact of his aggressive style of play, or account for his big upside. 

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Adams arguably has above average potential to improve, given how little top-level basketball he has played compared to the average rookie NBA player. 

He had just one season of college basketball with the Pittsburgh Panthers before being drafted, prior to that he played in the New Zealand NBL.

* Big men refers to players listed as either C, C-F or F-C on the NBA website

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