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Steven Adams, 6-foot-11 center, Pittsburgh: The New Zealand native has been the object of affection for many NBA scouts for a few years now after making a name for himself in summer camps in the States. Undeniably raw, Adams' tools, including a massive frame and excellent agility for his size, are certainly pro-ready, but the rest of his game needs to catch up. A long-term project, the big man could be ready to contribute on the defensive end of the floor early in his career, but although he's displayed flashes of offensive potential since the college season ended, he still has a long way to go before he can be considered a real scoring option on the next level.
Career highlights: Even based on limited viewings, Adams was ranked a consensus top recruit by talent evaluators and coupled with his compelling story of being one of 18 siblings, as well as the interesting process that led Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon to discover him, the center was one of the most-anticipated newcomers in the college game last season. Unfortunately, it became clear that his lack of experience against high-level competition and adjustment to the American came slowed down his learning curve. But while he struggled offensively in a disappointing season for the Panthers, he made his mark as a rebounder and on the defensive end. Adams saved his best for last, ending his all-Big East freshman campaign with his lone double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 boards in a loss to Cinderella Final Four squad Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament.
Strengths: Along with his muscular physique, Adams' ability to move his feet on defense, which is essential for pick-and-roll coverage, something that dominates the NBA game. His willingness to bang on the interior is also a plus and while he isn't the most fundamentally-sound player yet, if he can avoid foul trouble, he's an adept shot-blocking presence, as evidenced by his average of two swats per game in just over 23 minutes of play. Although his effort appears inconsistent at times, likely at least somewhat due to the speed of the game, Adams' ability to run the floor, powerful athleticism and as displayed in both workouts for teams and last month's pre-draft combine, emerging touch on his mid-range jumper provides hope that he can develop into a competent scorer down the line, especially when his efficient field-goal percentage is factored in.
Weaknesses: His lack of refined post moves, poor free-throw shooting and shaky hands don't bode well for Adams' future, though some of those things can be improved with hard work. With his size, one would imagine that he's an extremely physical player, but too often, although Adams didn't necessarily shy away from contact, he seemed tentative to impose his will on smaller, less athletically-gifted frontcourt players. Such a small sample size can be misleading, but although he enjoys a reputation as a hard worker, Adams has an uphill battle to make an impact in the NBA.
Draft projection: Considered a potential lottery pick before the season, Adams' stock severely dropped to second-round status when he announced he was turning pro before drastically recovering over the last month, to the point where he's now regarded as a candidate to be drafted in the middle of the first round, if not the tail end of the lottery. No matter where he ends up, the team that selects Adams will have to be patient and not expect him to be a force for at least a season or two or perhaps even longer. Either way, the lack of quality size in the NBA and his considerable upside, not to mention the investment a team will have to make, gives him a shot at being a athletic, enforcer-type backup center and a presence in the paint, and if he reaches his potential, a starter who can affect the game on both ends of the floor.