OPINION: Kiwi hoops sensation Steven Adams has emerged as the big mover at the NBA combine in Chicago, with predictions the 19-year-old could have significantly improved his stock for the upcoming draft.
Adams is among 63 NBA hopefuls being put through their paces in Chicago at the first of a succession of workouts designed to offer prospective suitors the information they need ahead of the June 27 draft.
Adams, the younger brother of two-time Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams, impressed watching scouts and team officials through the opening two days of the Chicago combine, which puts young players through a variety of drills, tests and exercises aimed at measuring their readiness for the next level.
Prominent college hoops analyst Seth Davis, who works for Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, named Adams as one of the two most impressive players through the first two days of the combine.
He described the New Zealander as "a guy who may really have helped himself" following a less than dazzling freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh. "He got out on the court at the combine and shot the ball well, and showed that he has some skills," said Davis. "I think he at least solidified his standing as a first-round prospect."
All players drafted in the first round of the draft receive guaranteed contracts, but one analyst predicted Adams could have lifted his stock into lottery (top-14) contention.
Jonathan Wasserman, who is lead NBA writer for bleacherreport .com, described Adams as "the biggest winner from this year's event".
"Normally, most combine winners generate buzz during physical measurements. But Adams created his based on simple basketball drills in front of executives, scouts and coaches," wrote Wasserman.
"He was knocking down jumpers as if he'd been saving them for the right time. At Pittsburgh, Adams did most of his damage by catching and dunking at the rim. He'd go weeks without attempting a shot outside the paint.
"But during drills, Adams was not only accurate, but his stroke was fluid. It looked natural. He was swishing shots in rhythm during the pick-and-pop drills and converting one-dribble pull-ups comfortably.
"He also gave a strong interview on national television, seeming down-to-earth, self-aware and personable. The interviews are a very under-rated aspect of the process."
Adams also turned heads with some of his numbers in the official measurements taken of all participants at the combine.
He stood an even 7ft tall in his shoes with a monstrous 7'4.5" wingspan, which is the key measurement NBA teams look at when it comes to big men.
Adams hands were also impressively monstrous, among the largest recorded since the NBA began measuring hand width and length. Adams' overall measurements were said to be very similar to former No 1 pick Greg Oden, who was pegged as an athletic and physical freak before injuries wrecked his NBA career.
"Given this new information, teams may no longer view Adams as that hit-or-miss, long-term project," said Wasserman. "He's going to continue impressing in workouts based on his size, athleticism, deceptive touch and character."
Adams, meanwhile, told reporters at the combine he was confident he could contribute positively for whichever NBA team picked him.
"I don't think I'm going to go in there straight away and dominate but I will dominate certain tasks they put me up to," he said.
He described himself as a "high-energy guy" who liked to run the lanes and play physical. He said he was working hard at improving his post play.
He also told reporters it had been a "personal decision" to enter the NBA draft this year but it was also to "help certain family members".
If Adams continues to impress observers like he has in Chicago, that decision could prove an inspired one.
Steve Adams - the measurements:
Height (without shoes) 6'10.75''
Height (in shoes) 7'0
Body fat 6.7 per cent
Hand length 9.50in
Hand width 11in
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