Another productive outing for Steven Adams as OKC Thunder finish pre-season
Steven Adams continues to send a resounding message to the Oklahoma City Thunder – both on his readiness for an enlarged role this looming NBA season, and on his possible contract extension.
The 23-year-old New Zealander rounded out the Thunder's pre-season programme with another eye-catching display as OKC defeated the Denver Nuggets 97-87 at home to finish preparations on a high note. It was their third win from six games in the exhibition campaign.
Adams backed up on the standout 20-point, 11-rebound, four-block performance he put in against an undermanned Minnesota Timberwolves outfit on Monday (NZT) with another quality display against the Nuggets in his second game back from an ankle injury.
The 2.13m Kiwi led the Thunder in scoring with 17 points on eight-of-12 shooting in 25 minutes. He also had a team-high nine rebounds (three off the offensive glass) and added a nifty assist and a pair of steals.
Also encouraging was the range of Adams' scoring moves, with the fourth-year centre converting on a number of short jumpers to show his shooting touch is where it needs to be. He did leave the game late when he landed uncomfortably on a team-mate, but appeared fine.
Russell Westbrook added 12 points and nine assists for the Thunder in just 18 minutes, while 'Stache bro' Enes Kanter chipped in with 15 points (7/11 FG) and eight boards off the bench. Semaj Christon continued his impressive pre-season with 10 points off the pine for OKC.
😮Steven Adams in the 🎨.— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) October 19, 2016
Thunder leads Nugs by 20 after 3https://t.co/fNcG1Dd4B3
The Nuggets were paced by 18 points from Danillo Gallinari.
Adams' excellent finish to the pre-season will be encouraging for the Thunder as they reshape their identity following the off-season departures of superstar Kevin Durant and long-time starting power forward Serge Ibaka.
They are relying on the New Zealander increasing his offensive output this season and also continuing to be the defensive force he revealed himself as in the 2015-16 playoff run.
It will also be giving the front office plenty to think about as the October 31 deadline approaches for eligible contract extensions.
Adams is in the final year of his mandatory four-year rookie deal and, unless he agrees to a contract extension with the Thunder before October 31, will become a restricted free-agent at season's end.
The big Kiwi is expected to fetch a max-type deal likely to be in the $US20-25 million-a-year region.
The Thunder open their regular season with a visit to the Philadelphia 76ers on October 27 (NZT).