Adams made own luck, but deserves it too

17:00, 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.

Luck's got nothing to do with where Steven Adams is now as the newest member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. And everything.

The 19-year-old New Zealander ended up a lottery pick in yesterday's NBA Draft in Brooklyn because he's worked unbelievably hard to complement the incredible natural attributes he's been born with.

You don't make the NBA just because you're as tall as a building, got arms like an albatross and hands like shovels. Though those things certainly help.

From the moment he came under the wing of Kenny McFadden in Wellington as a raw 14-year-old who had been plucked from the streets of Rotorua to sort his life out in the capital, Adams has worked studiously and religiously towards this day.

He's sacrificed, he's prioritised and he's worked his butt off to become the first New Zealander to go in the first round of the NBA draft (picked 12th overall by the Thunder). Effectively he's been rated one of the dozen best young players on the planet. No luck in that equation.

But when NBA teams choose their new young talent via the draft process that sees, generally, the worst teams pick first and the best teams last, Adams experienced a real stroke of luck.

He didn't just get picked in the lottery (top 14), he won the flaming thing.

Among the teams choosing in the first round, Adams could not have found a better home if he'd hand-picked it. He has landed at pretty much the perfect NBA destination.

For starters the Thunder are a quality, values-based organisation who have modelled themselves on the club everyone wants to be like, the San Antonio Spurs. Their GM Sam Presti learnt his trade at the Spurs, and has moulded this club on their image.

So Adams is at a club that will treat him fairly and squarely, which in the billion-dollar world of the NBA is not necessarily a given.

Then there's the Thunder team itself. In Kevin Durant they have the NBA's second best player and No 1 nice guy. It's an irrepressible combination and means the Kiwi youngster will have a superstar teammate he can genuinely model himself on.

In Russell Westbrook, the outrageously gifted Thunder point guard, Adams will also find himself alongside a talented, driven, competitive individual who desperately wants to win, and also have a little fun in doing so.

It's as good a one-two punch as there is in the league (on a par with the Heat's own LeBron James and Dwyane Wade) and with youth on their side probably going to be around for the best part of a decade.

Adams has landed at a club that could be a contender for the next six or seven years.

But, crucially, he's also joined a squad that doesn't need him from the off. This is important.

The big knock on the 2.13m Kiwi being picked this prominently is that he still needs a lot of work on his game. A lot of refining. Few times, if ever, has a guy gone so highly who only averaged seven points a game in the college hoops.

So Adams is going to need fine-tuning, tuition and games in the D-League (luckily the Thunder have an excellent offshoot in Tulsa). He's also going to need time - to learn the NBA game, to adjust to its speed and athleticism, to generally figure things out.

Luckily the Thunder have that. They have three other centres on their books in Kendrick Perkins (son of ex-Canterbury Ram Kenny Perkins who still resides in Christchurch), Hasheem Thabeet and young Daniel Orton. They won't be fast-tracking their newcomer till he's ready.

Also Oklahoma is as small market as it gets in the NBA. The Kiwi kid from Rotorua will find the pace familiar, and he won't have the media focus he would have had in, say, New York or LA. Nor the distractions.

In short, the situation is perfect for Adams. If he's as good as everybody thinks he can be, then he'll have time to find that level. He'll also have a club who will help him every step of the way and team-mates who will have his back, and probably enjoy his special brand of Kiwi humour too.

Of course this is the NBA, and he could be traded tomorrow too. That's the world he now lives in.


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

Fairfax Media