Steven Adams voted fourth toughest player in NBA in general managers' survey
NBA general managers have ranked Steven Adams the fourth toughest player in the league – along with his nemesis Draymond Green.
Ahead of the new season, the 30 franchise bosses were asked to vote on a number of categories and Oklahoma City Thunder's Kiwi import featured heavily when it came to sheer toughness.
Tony Allen of Memphis topped this category for a second consecutive year, gaining 23.3 per cent of the votes.
Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio) was second with 16.7 per cent, followed by Adams' team-mate Russell Westbrook with 13.3 per cent.
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Then came Adams and Green, locked together in fourth position, with each gaining 10 per cent of the votes.
They seem to be indelibly linked after Green resorted to rough-house tactics to combat Adams during the NBA Western Conference finals earlier this year.
A frustrated Green lashed out at Adams, kicking him in the groin.
The acknowledgement of Adams' physical hardness by the game's hierarchy is another indicator of how quickly he has developed in basketball's toughest league.
That was born out in a separate interview with Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone.
He was in charge of Sacramento in 2013 when they were looking to draft Adams.
"We worked him out and loved him," Malone told The Norman Transcript.
"Loved how he ran the floor, his toughness. And now you look at him, I'm sure those guys love playing with him, because he sets great screens, gets guys open. He eats the glass, offensive rebounds, and he finishes."
Speaking of eating, it was Adams' appetite for food that blew away Malone. He still remembers fondly a dinner they shared.
"He had two full appetisers. He had two entrees. He had a loaf of bread."
It was the bread consumption that startled Malone most.
"He had a steak knife as he was cutting [the bread]," Malone said trying to mimic proper table manners.
"He's talking with the steak knife in his hand. He cracked me up, man."
Other categories where Oklahoma featured in the general managers voting included being the third best team for home advantage with 10 per cent of the votes behind Golden State (58.3 per cent) and Denver (16.7 per cent).
Westbrook was rated the league's most athletic player, collecting a whopping 62.1 per cent of the votes with LeBron James second on 17.2 per cent.
Westbrook (23.3 per cent) was voted second behind James (46.7 per cent) among players favoured to win the 2016-17 MVP.