When former Pitt center Steven Adams was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder, it appeared he might be a good candidate for the NBA's D-League. After all, Adams was seen as underdeveloped and the Thunder already had several veterans including Kendrick Perkins, Daniel Orton, and Hasheem Thabeet (the latter two younger, but still with more experience than Adams).
Adams, though, appears headed for the bright lights immediately.
He's simply been too productive in the preseason and at times has looked like the Thunder's best center on the roster. Adams is averaging darn near a double double through seven preseason games (7.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest) and that's despite playing fairly limited action. He has been playing more lately but didn't reach the 20-minute mark in any of the team's first three games. Adams has also shot 62% from the field and is averaging a block and a steal a game.
His coach, Scotty Brooks, even sounds like he's not planning on dumping Adams off in the D-League.
Based on the way he's played, I don't think they could even afford to send him there at this point. Kendrick Perkins, the team's expected starter was a train wreck in the postseason last year and is in serious decline, even at 28. He's already played ten years in the NBA since he didn't play in college and his scoring and rebounding have dropped each of the past three years. Elsewhere there's Thabeet but he's never looked impressive in his four NBA seasons.
The biggest indicator, though, that Adams is likely to stick is that Orton was recently waived by the team. The Thunder are down to two centers and Adams is in the driver's seat to start the season as the team's backup.
It's early and we're not even in the regular season, but Adams is already answering critics about his ability to play right away.