Steven Adams is simply Thunder-struck

22:49, Jun 28 2013
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Steven Adams battles with Wichita State's Tyreke Cotton for a loose ball.
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Steven Adams attempts unsuccessfully to block a shot against Syracuse.
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Wellington Saints fans talk with Steven Adams after the Saints won the 2011 NBL title.
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Wellington Phoenix footballer Danny Vukonic learns the hard way not to try to shoot on Steven Adams during a Christchurch Earthquake fundraising game.
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Steven Adams (left) with Wellington Saints team-mates Erron Maxey and Troy McLean with the NZBL trophy.
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Steven Adams in action for the Pittsburgh Panthers.
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Steven Adams bodies up against Michigan's Trey Burke, who is expected to be a top-10 pick in the NBA draft.
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Coaching mentor Kenny McFadden and trainer and caregiver Blossom Cameron have been influential in Steven Adams' rise.
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The massive 2.25m wingspan of Steven Adams allows him to control the paint.
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Steven Adams with golfer Julianne Alvarez after they won Wellington College Sports sportsman and sportswoman of the year awards.
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The desks at Scots College struggled to hold a seven-footer.
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Steven Adams was a late-comer to basketball.
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Steven Adams (third right) lines up with Wellington Saints team-mate Arthur Trousdell (left) and others to audition for The Hobbit.
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Steven Adams (fourth right) with other members of the 2013 NBA draft class at a movie premiere.
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Steven Adams reacts after a play for Pittsburgh.
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In the NCAA Tournament, Steven Adams knocks the ball out of the hands of a Wichita State player.
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Steven Adams pulls down an offensive rebound against Syracuse.
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Steven Adams hits the hardwood chasing a loose ball.
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Steven Adams lived around the rim during his time in Pittsburgh.
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On the way to the New Zealand Under-21 title, Steven Adams in action for Wellington.
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Steven Adams reacts after being announced as the 12th pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Draft.
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Steven Adams shakes hands with NBA commissioner David Stern after being drafted in the first round in June 2013.
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Steven Adams holds open his jacket showing the NZ flag sewn onto the lining.
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Steven Adams as a student at Scots College in Wellington in 2009.
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Adams in 2011, with Saints basketball coach Pero Cameron
KING OF COOL: Adams in 2010.
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Adams, third from right, lines up with people tall and short during a casting call for The Hobbit in 2010 at the Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre in Wellington.
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Steven Adams gets a tailor-made suit from New Zealand menswear manufacturer Rembrandt before heading to the USA for the NBA draft in 2013.
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Denver Nuggets small forward Jordan Hamilton attempts a shot against Adams in 2013.
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Adams guards New York Knicks power forward Jeremy Tyler in February 2014.

Throughout the prolonged pre-draft courtship process, Steven Adams pretended he didn't care which NBA team called his name.

Of course that was a necessary charade so to not burn bridges; each and every one of the starry-eyed prospects would have gone to sleep dreaming of a desired destination.

For Adams, that was the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the dream came true in New York yesterday when the Western Conference powerhouse selected him at No 12, the first time a Kiwi has been picked in the first round.

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KIWI HISTORY: Steven Adams makes history after being drafted by NBA franchise Oklahoma City Thunder.

"I've always wanted to be a Thunder, from the start of the workouts," said Adams, who is set to become the third New Zealander to play in the NBA.

"The Thunder was definitely the one. They were so professional. All the coaches in there were real good people and they knew a lot about basketball. All they cared about was just getting better, progressing and reaching towards the championship. Their programme is really, really good."

Star team-mates Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka were quick to offer their welcomes on Twitter and Adams could not have asked for a better fit.


The Thunder rival the San Antonio Spurs for their reputation as a well-run organisation from top to bottom and will view Adams as a project.

The 2.13m centre only had a moderately successful freshman season at the University of Pittsburgh and is likely to spend significant time in the D-League before he is allowed to plonk his size 19 shoes on an NBA court.

But yesterday was a time for celebration, the culmination of a remarkable rise for the self described "hori as" teenager from Rotorua.

Two people in particular should take a bow; caregiver Blossom Cameron and mentor/coach Kenny McFadden.

Neither deviated from their steadfast belief that Adams would make the grade, with McFadden repeatedly singling out his work ethic - rather than size and athleticism - as his greatest asset.

Not since the Tall Blacks' giantkilling run at the 2002 world championships has basketball in New Zealand enjoyed such a day in the sun.

Adams hoped his success would inspire folk back home.

"I just want to show that there's another path in sports instead of rugby. I'm hoping this will help the programme, and Americans will start looking at New Zealand as a place to find basketball players."

Reaction from Thunder fans and media was mixed.

Writing for, NBA blogger Royce Young said predictions of Adams being a draft "bust" were unfair.

"His measurables are off the chart, his athleticism is crazy, his size is terrific and his accent is awesome," Young wrote.

"He's raw, he needs time, he needs work. The first time he gets sent to the D-League, fans are going to roll their eyes and declare the pick wasted. News flash here: He's not going to step in and start 82 games and average a double-double. The Thunder believe patience pays off, and in a lot of ways, they've been proven right."

The evidence of that is Ibaka, born in Congo before moving to Spain, who was picked at No 24 by the Thunder in 2008.

Like Adams, the 2.08m Ibaka was a raw athlete but has matured into one of the best defenders in the league.

In time, they could form a terrifying tandem.

"I'm going to go straight to Ibaka and try to study him first and see how he moves around defensively," Adams said.

"All I'm trying to work on right now is rebounding, blocking shots, defence and running the lanes. All the base sort of stuff. From there I'll try to branch off or whatever. Whatever the coaches want."

Fairfax Media