Earlier in the week a few tweets from Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix suggested Steven Adams is in a free fall from the top of the NBA Draft boards. " Adams is in a free fall. Scouts seeing a big man with lots of tools and no confidence. One exec suggested he transfer" and he followed that with "For many execs, Adams stumbles not entirely unexpected. D-1 competition is a big step up for him. Needs more seasoning."
I will begin with the obvious. It is clear that Steven Adams was given some unfair expectations. He was rated as a top five prospect by Rivals.com in the past recruiting class. He was named the preseason Big East Rookie of the Year as well. All that was put on a kid that was not playing basketball all his life. He barely played in New Zealand and overcame some personal struggles to even be a college bound player. He moved to the States late last year to get acquainted to American basketball. Adams did fairly well on the Prep circuit, but still it was going to be hard to imagine him being a dominant force in the Big East from day one, let alone be a one and done lottery pick.
Steven Adams has certainly gone through his struggles this season with the Panthers. The zero point, one rebound output against then number four Michigan was a bit of a telling sign. He was not ready for that type of stage....yet. Adams has improved significantly in the past five games. Pitt has posted a 4-1 record, and 2-1 against ranked teams. All Steven has done is average nine points, nine rebounds, and two blocks in that stretch. It is certainly no coincidence Pitt is coming together the same time Adams' production has grown.
The Jamie Dixon system must not be favorable to NBA gurus. Khem Birch may have taken some bad advice and left Pitt. Birch scored two points in 29 minutes of action in UNLV's most recent game off the bench. Adams is clearly becoming more accustomed to American hoops, and he is really growing up fast. So, if the NBA is saying he is free falling, that's fine. Pitt gets a top flight Center for at least another year. Fine by me.