Steven Adams ranked among NBA's top-50 players by top US sports media outlet
New Zealand's Steven Adams is a legit top-50 NBA star, according to one highly respected US sports media outlet.
Sports Illustrated has named Oklahoma City Thunder starting centre Adams the 47th best player in the NBA in its top-100 rankings for the 2017-18 season.
SI's basketball vertical, The Crossover, is compiling the hot-list, with Adams landing in the latest batch to drop, those coming in from 31-50. One of his OKC team-mates has already made the countdown, with free-agent signing Patrick Patterson coming in 98th.
Thunder superstars Russell Westbrook and Paul George are certainties to land up the pointy end of the rankings.
ESPN is also compiling its own top-100, and so far have ace defender Andre Roberson at No 85, and Patterson at 76 on their list. Adams has yet to appear on that countdown and is expected to also come inside the top 50.
All things considered, 47 is a respectable spot for Adams to land, with The Crossover lauding the 2.15m Kiwi for a number of his qualities that don't show up on the stat sheet.
The 24-year-old is rated ahead of Minnesota Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins (50), Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes (49) and Charlotte Hornets 3-and-D guy Nicolas Batum (48), but below the likes of Golden State Warriors supersub Andre Iguodala (46), new LA Lakers centre Brook Lopez (45) and rising 76ers centre Joel Embiid (41).
The Crossover hoops writer Rob Mahoney notes that expectations had been high last season for Adams on the back of his standout turn in the 2016 playoffs, and that career-best stats of 11.3ppg, 7.7rpg and 1.0bpg had been considered a disappointment by some.
"Consider, instead, the reality," wrote Mahoney. "Adams raised the ceiling on what was a strange exercise in Oklahoma City last season. While Russell Westbrook drew attention from opponents and observers alike, it was Adams who was helping anchor the defence that actually got the Thunder into the playoffs.
"While the Thunder posted one of the lowest Effective Field Goal Percentages in the league, Adams was battling to secure extra, compensatory possessions. Only six players in the league grabbed a higher percentage of available offensive rebounds."
Mahoney said you had to look beyond the box score for Adams' true contribution because he had a game "tailored to complement".
"What he doesn't do is the point; Adams knows what he does well and dedicates his game to aiding those who wind up filling the box score. When your centre defends well, screens hard, aids in team rebounding, and finishes the opportunities presented him, the rest of the lineup can be maximised accordingly."
Adams is beginning the first of a four-year mega-deal with the Thunder that will pay him US$100 million over the next four seasons.
Recently, former Thunder superstar Kevin Durant lauded the big Kiwi as the third member of OKC's new "Big 3" alongside Westbrook and George and said their combination is "going to suck for the rest of the league".
The Thunder open their NBA regular season on October 19 at home against the New York Knicks, and will meet Australian NBL side Melbourne United on as part of their pre-season schedule in OKC on October 8.