NBA All-Star Lopez backs Adams to succeed

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 13:51 18/08/2013
Steven Adams
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BIG BUCKS: Steven Adams is set to be New Zealand's highest paid sportsperson.

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Steven Adams' NBA prospects have received a glowing endorsement from someone who should know - All-Star centre Brook Lopez.

The two seven footers are in Wellington today coaching 250 star-struck kids at a New Zealand Basketball Academy camp at the ASB Sports Centre.

Lopez, a skilled 25-year-old big man with the Brooklyn Nets, shares the same agent as Adams and has followed his progress since the 2011 adidas Nations tournament.

He told a press conference that Adams had all the tools to succeed in the NBA, having created Kiwi history by being picked No 12 by the Oklahoma City Thunder in June's draft.

''It's a great story and an inspirational one,'' Lopez said.

''I'm following his story and I'm definitely excited to see him succeed... I definitely think he has the tools. A lot of people are definitely drafted on their potential and in a lot of cases it's all up to the player to take advantage of their opportunity and take advantage of their skill-set. 

"Steven definitely has all the tools, all the potential and what I've noticed about him is he really has the mindset and willpower to want to be one of the best players in the league.''

Lopez is probably the most skilled offensive centre in the league but said adapting to the speed of the NBA was his biggest challenge as a rookie.

''Coming out of college, when you watch the game on TV it looks very slow, thought out and methodical but then you get out on court and everything's happening instantaneously and you have to make split second decisions," he said. 

"That was a bit of an adjustment for me but I think Steven will be doing great for the most part. He's a coachable guy, he'll get out there and work hard, do what's asked of him and do a lot of the small things at first, that will make him stand out from the pack. And from there build on his role.''

Lopez is a self described ''big nerd and geek'' so he was in his element this morning as he received a tour of Wellington's Weta Workshop.

It is not his first visit to New Zealand, having watched older brother Alex play as an import for the Canterbury Rams in 2000.

''So we were in Christchurch for a little bit and saw a few of his games. I definitely took a liking to the area. I'm a big nerd and geek so I did my best to follow the trail to Mordor and see the Lord of the Rings stuff on site, I really enjoyed that as well. We were here for about three weeks.''

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Adams is on a one-week holiday in New Zealand before returning to pre-season duties with the Thunder.

He was enjoying life in Oklahoma City where he is now a teammate of superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

''It's quiet but it's good because all you do then is just focus on basketball,'' Adams said.

''They're cool, Westbrook and KD, they're pretty mean. I've never been star struck bro, I don't know, I just see them as normal people. Especially if I'm going to be playing with them, it's never really hit me. I just see them as players but I definitely have mad respect for them and what they've done and accomplished.''

Adams said he hoped to play for the Tall Blacks at next year's World Cup in Spain and he will make an announcement about his international future later today.

He was soaking up as much knowledge as possible while on tour with Lopez.

''Just professionalism really, how you hold yourself around the public and stuff like that. You can still be yourself but you've got to be professional about it. I've got a good support group around me, a good team that makes sure I don't go down the wrong path. So it's been easy I guess, just because they're protecting me.''

- Fairfax Media

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