Steven Adams off to bright start for Thunder
It's just a start, but a bright one nonetheless as Kiwi NBA hotshot Steven Adams has launched his Oklahoma City Thunder career in promising fashion.
There was even a fillip from head coach Scott Brooks afterwards too, as the Thunder shook off a slow beginning to begin their NBA pre-season with a 95-82 victory over Fenerbahce in Turkey yesterday.
Adams played a shade over 15 minutes off the bench, though he did start the second half at centre after Kendrick Perkins dislocated a finger, and finished with seven points (3/4 FG, 1/2 FT), six rebounds, three turnovers and five fouls.
It was the 19-year-old's first outing with the full Thunder lineup after being picked No 12 overall pick in the draft, and subsequently signed to a minimum two-year deal paying him more than US$2 million annually.
Later Brooks dished out some praise for his big Kiwi and young guard Jeremy Lamb, who also impressed with nine points, five boards and four assists.
"I thought they did a great job," said Brooks. "We want to make sure they play tough, physical basketball and play with a lot of effort and they did that tonight."
The Thunder were led by All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who had 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and Serge Ibaka who weighed in with 15 points, six boards and four blocks.
Turkish club Fenerbahce had edged in front 28-20 after the first quarter but Oklahoma led by six at the major break (48-42) and by 10 (75-65) at the end of three.
The 2.13m centre is playing for a regular season spot and will have done his chances no harm with a solid outing.
"He moves really well and finishes with nice touch around the basket," Thunder columnist Darnell Mayberry said of Adams.
"He's young and a bit out of control at times, but has clear talent, finishing three of his four shots around the rim and clogging the lane," added beat writer Anthony Slater.
With Perkins likely to be sidelined for a few games as he deals with his finger, Adams can expect more opportunities to come his way as the Thunder move through their pre-season schedule.
Their next outing is against the Philadelphia 76ers in Manchester, England, on Wednesday.